politics : culture : economics

Parliaments, presidents and the endurance of Turkey’s democracy

In Constitution, Democratisation, Turkey on September 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm

The rumblings about Turkey potentially moving from its current broadly parliamentary system of governance to a more purely presidential one deserve closer attention than I currently have time to give them. But the effects of different institutional arrangements on the democratisation process have been well researched and I’d like to share this summary from an article entitled ‘What Makes Democracies Endure’, which was contributed to the Journal of Democracy by Adam Przeworksi and others in 1996:

“If a country, any randomly selected country, is to have a democratic regime next year, what conditions should be present in that country and around the world this year? The answer is: democracy, affluence, growth with moderate inflation, declining inequality, a favourable international climate, and parliamentary institutions.”

The authors go on to spend ten pages or so unfolding each of these criteria. But they’re quite definitive on the parliamentary point: “The evidence that parliamentary democracy survives longer and under a broader spectrum of conditions than presidential democracy … seems incontrovertible.”

There’s much else of interest in the article from a Turkish perspective. For instance, responding to the suggestion that democracy is more stable in countries that have enjoyed it previously, the authors note that this political learning process cuts both ways:

“If a country had a democratic regime (note the past tense), it is a veteran not only of democracy but of the successful subversion of democracy.… Democrats may find the work of consolidation easier when they can rely on past traditions, but antidemocratic forces also have an experience from which they can draw lessons: People know that overthrowing democracy is possible, and they may even know how to do it.”

If you’d like to read more, there’s an online version of the article here (PDF). (On the inequality point, I highlighted in a recent piece how far Turkey has still has to go in this regard.)

  1. […] makes it to this website, I recommend checking out Aengus Collins’ brief but interesting post on institutional democracies and HDN’s initial article for some very needed background. from → News ← Write […]

  2. […] Parliaments, presidents and the endurance of Turkey’s democracy by istanbulnotes […]

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