Ongoing Projects

– The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey Scientific and Technological Research Projects Funding Program (TÜBİTAK 1001): 2022-5

Title: Türkiye’de Duygusal ve Coğrafi Kutuplaşma ile Seçmen Davranışı İlişkisi [The Relationship between Affective and Geographic Polarization and Electoral Behavior in Turkey]

Abstract: As a result of its numerous negative consequences for representative democracy, such as political elites’ increasingly conflictual rhetoric and citizens’ growing lack of tolerance against the members of social groups with differing political views, the number of studies on political polarization in both the comparative and Turkish politics literatures has substantially increased especially in the last decade. Previous research commonly demonstrates that, today, polarization has reached very high levels in many democratic and democratizing countries. Yet, our understanding of the causes of the ideological, policy-based, partisan, and affective polarization of citizens, arguably the most important of the representative democracy’s several actors, remains very limited. The proposed project focuses on a crucial determinant of electoral polarization and electoral behavior that has not been studied in few previous empirical studies on the rapidly increasing political polarization in Turkey: geographical polarization. The project aims to study the effects of high and rising geographical polarization on the formation of citizens’ political attitudes, particularly their affect toward their own and other parties, and, relatedly, on their voting behavior. To these ends, a three-stage research plan benefiting from both qualitative and quantitative methods is crafted. In these respects, with its increasingly important topic and carefully crafted research plan, the project and its many outputs aim to contribute to both the comparative and Turkish politics literatures from theoretical and methodological perspectives. Before the project’s seven work packages that will be completed in the next three years comes a review of previous research from both theoretical and methodological perspectives, whereas subsequent work packages focus on data collection and production of the project’s various outputs. Focus group discussions will be examined with content analysis methods, and their findings will be published in a report on Turkish citizens’ polarization perceptions and used while preparing the questionnaires of the survey studies in the subsequent work packages. The proposed research design also involves survey data collection, through a two-wave panel study, to accomplish the project’s three main research objectives: examining the causes of affective polarization, assessing the level of affective polarization in Turkey from both longitudinal and comparative perspectives, and testing the two main hypotheses that high and increasing geographical polarization increases affective polarization. The two-wave panel and the embedded field experiment will also allow the researcher to make a causal argument regarding this relationship, unlike previous research on affective polarization in other countries that commonly employs aggregate-level and/or cross-sectional data. In these respects, the project not only is novel thanks to its original topic and carefully-designed research plan but also aims to fill important gaps in the previous literature on the relationship between electoral polarization and electoral behavior. The project’s outputs include two reports, three conference proceedings and related journal articles, and a workshop aiming to disseminate the project’s outputs and lead to new collaboration incentives among researchers working on polarization. The project also has important policy implications for political stability and democratization, specifically to restore the public’s trust in democratic institutions, as highlighted in the Eleventh Development Plan. Consequently, along with researchers, the project outputs and data will be of great interest to and shared with the policymakers, NGOs, public, and news media. In addition to enhancing the content of the researcher’s undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on electoral behavior and political and survey methodology, the project also has high potential to improve the research team’s future academic careers and projects. Thanks to its innovative methodology, and the high potential impact and feasibility of its numerous outputs, the proposed project is also expected to contribute to the development of behavioral sciences in Turkey and especially future research on the causes and consequences of political polarization.

– SU President’s Research Grant (2023-4)

Title: Türkiye Seçim Çalışması 2023 [Turkish Election Study 2023]

– Turkish Academy of Sciences  Outstanding Young Scientist Award (TÜBA-GEBİP): 2020-3

Title: Türkiye’de Siyasi Kutuplaşmanın Seçime Katılım ve Oy Verme Davranışlarına Etkileri, 1983-2019 [On the Effects of Political Polarization in Turnout and Voting Behaviors in Turkey, 1983-2019]

The project, entitled “The Effects of Political Polarization on Turnout and Voting Behavior in Turkey,” aims to collect a novel and comprehensive dataset on the outcomes of the presidential, general, and municipality elections at the neighborhood (village) level. Employing this novel and comprehensive dataset, the empirical analyses aim to test the hypotheses that high and increasing party, electoral, and geographical polarization decreases vote transitions and increases voter turnout in the long run. In addition to its contributions to the Turkish political literature in these respects, by being the first study investigating the long-term behavioral effects of political polarization on electoral behavior and proposing a number of methodological innovations, the proposed project aims to contribute to the literatures on political polarization and electoral behavior.

Previous Projects

Research Grant for the June 2019 Istanbul Municipality Election Survey Study (with Özge Kemahlıoğlu), Istanbul Policy Center (IPC): 2019
+ Presentation of the survey findings is available here.
+ An article-length report co-authored with Emre Erdoğan, Özge Kemahlıoğlu, Ersin Kalaycıoğlu and Emre Toros can be found here.

Internal Research Grant for the Turkish Election Study 2018 (with Ersin Kalaycıoğlu), Sabanci University: 2018
+ Post-election survey sponsored by the Koç and Sabancı Universities is part of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) Module 5 and available here.
+ Questionnaire is available here.