Minorities in the Middle East: Ethnicty Religion and Support for Authoritarianism

Ceren Belge, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper Political Research Quarterly, 2015


Under what conditions do minorities in the Middle East participate in authoritarian coalitions? Research on authoritarian resilience in the Middle East has been largely silent on linguistic and religious minorities’ preferences over regime types. Here, we examine whether minorities differ in their support for authoritarianism from the majority groups in four Middle Eastern states. We argue that minorities whose status is threatened by a transition to majoritarian decision-making institutions are less likely to be supportive of democratization. We examine how different cleavages affect the preferences of minorities over regime type and identify three historical legacies in the Middle East that have shaped these cleavages: the Ottoman-Islamic legacy of minority accommodation, the ethnic class structure that emerged as a result of the region’s integration to world markets in the nineteenth century, and a post-independence pattern of authoritarian secularism. Based on survey research and a comparison of minorities in Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan, we find that linguistic minorities tend to be less supportive of authoritarianism while religious minorities tend to be more supportive of authoritarianism.

Assessments of Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East During the Arab Uprisings

Mesut Ozcan, Talha Kose and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper Turkish Studies, 2015


Using original public-opinion polls and elite interviews conducted in 2012, this article analyzes the perceptions of Turkish foreign policy regarding the Arab Uprisings and the Syrian conflict in three Middle Eastern countries, Egypt, Iraq and Iran. It finds that ethnic, sectarian and religious groups in these three countries vary significantly in their views on Turkish foreign policy regarding both the Arab Uprisings and the Syrian conflict, although the same identity-related factors have a less salient effect at the elite level. The findings also suggest that the intersection of ethnicity and sect shapes people's attitudes toward Turkish foreign policy in Iran and Iraq. Sunnis, except for Kurds in Iran and Iraq, tend to have a positive view of Turkish foreign policy, while Shia Turkomans in Iraq tend to have a negative one.

The perils of semi-presidentialism: Confidence in political institutions in contemporary democracies

Alper Ecevit, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper International Political Science Review, 2015, forthcoming


The degree to which citizens perceive democratic political institutions as trustworthy indicates how well these institutions translate the citizenry’s interests into public policy and how effective and accountable they are seen to be. Low levels of public confidence in political institutions are an indicator of various political problems and are likely to raise concerns over democratic governance. Recent findings that trust in major political institutions has fallen over the last quarter of a century in many democracies have led scholars to examine individual and institutional factors associated with political confidence. Aiming to contribute to this burgeoning literature, this study investigates the impact of semi-presidentialism on public confidence in two major political institutions: the government and parliament. Testing our arguments in 29 democracies through a multilevel analysis, we have found that, compared to presidential and parliamentary systems, semi-presidentialism often generates dual-legitimacy problems, thereby reducing confidence in both government and parliament.

Which matters more in the electoral success of Islamist (successor) parties − religion or performance?: The Turkish case

Elisabeth Gidengil, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper Party Politics, 2014, (forthcoming)


Does the electoral success of Islamist parties depend on the support of religious voters or does it owe as much or more to their performance in dealing with key political and economic issues? The repeated electoral success of an Islamist-rooted party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey, provides an important opportunity to answer this question. Using a nation-wide survey conducted in 2011 in Turkey, our findings suggest that in addition to religiosity the party’s performance with respect to social services, the economy and democracy were determining factors in the AKP’s success. We also found that the popularity of political leaders has an independent effect on party preference. We discuss similar tendencies in the aftermath of the Arab Spring elections where the Islamist parties emerged as the major winners.

Ethnicity and Trust in National and International Institutions: Kurdish Attitudes Toward Political Institutions in Turkey

Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper Turkish Studies, 2013, 14(1): 92-114


As political trust literature has focused on its political and economical determinants, the linkage between ethnicity and trust in domestic and international institutions has been largely overlooked with a few notable exceptions. This study aims to underline this linkage and offer several hypotheses to test them in Turkish context. Using the European Social Survey conducted in 2008, this study finds that, though Kurds have low levels of trust in domestic institutions, their distrust is not uniform across all institutions. Second, it finds that Kurds are pro-international institutions; that is, compared to Turks, they hold higher trust in international institutions. Finally, it finds that, contrary to the studies on the winner/loser debate in long-standing democracies, winners in general and Kurdish winners, those who voted for the Justice and Development Party, the winning party in the 2007 election—are not distinguishable in their level of trust in political institutions from the rest of society.

Economic Inequality and its Asymmetric Effect on Civil Society: Evidence from Postcommunist Countries

Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper European Political Science Review, 2013, 5(2): 197-223


The global increase in inequality raises concerns among scholars and policy-makers. However, limited evidence exists to identify how inequality affects citizens’ behavior. This study explores the effects of economic inequality on participation in civil society associations by testing hypotheses derived from resource and conflict theories. Using a multilevel Poisson model in 18 post-communist countries, this study finds that inequality has a nonlinear effect on civil society. Economic inequality has a drastically demobilizing effect on associational participation in countries with lower income inequality; meanwhile high inequality has a slightly weak mobilizing effect on associational participation. Further tests show that the effect of inequality varies across different socioeconomic groups, but that the poor are most affected.

Religion in Politics: How Does Inequality Affect Public Secularization?

Ekrem Karakoç, and Birol Başkan

Journal Paper Comparative Political Studies, 2012, 45(12): 1510-1541


This study investigates the factors that affect variations in secular attitudes toward politics. The literature suggests that modernization may weaken traditional bonds with religious adherence and the state can assume an important role in this endeavor through mass education, industrialization, and other factors. However, this explanation is incomplete in light of the resurgence of religious movements. This study argues that economic inequality increases the positive evaluation of the role of religion in politics through its effect on religiosity and participation in religious organizations. Employing a multilevel analysis on 40 countries, this study demonstrates that inequality decreases attitudes toward support for two dimensions of public secularization: the secularization of public office holders and the influence of religious leaders in politics. Simultaneously, the effect of modernization on these attitudes varies. The results also suggest that although inequality diminishes secular attitudes of all socioeconomic groups, its effect is nonlinear, with a greater effect on the poor.

Differentiating winners: How elections affect satisfaction with democracy

Shane Singh, Ekrem Karakoç, and André Blais

Journal Paper Electoral Studies, 2012, 31(1): 201-211


Previous research indicates that supporting a winning party in an election boosts satisfaction with democracy, but does not fully or adequately test the mechanisms behind this relationship. Using original survey data, we make a contribution on three fronts. First, we inquire what winning (or losing) an election really means in terms of the performance of one’s preferred party. Second, we employ panel data, which helps to determine whether an election outcome truly impacts satisfaction levels. Third, we examine the breadth of electoral victory, testing whether the satisfaction boost from a regional victory extends to the national and supranational levels. Findings indicate that the inclusion of one’s selected party in government is the most important factor for satisfaction with democracy, which attests to the importance of policy considerations in engendering satisfaction. In addition, winning a regional election strengthens satisfaction beyond the regional level, which indicates that the mere experience of being a “winner” also works to increase satisfaction.

Civilizing vs Destructive Globalization? A Multi-level analysis of anti-immigrant prejudice

Yunus Kaya, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 2012, 53(1): 23-44


This study investigates the impact of the latest wave of globalization on anti-immigrant prejudice. We discern and test two contradictory accounts of the impact of globalization on anti-immigrant prejudice from the prejudice and globalization literatures. On the one hand, there is the ‘civilizing/integrative globalization’ thesis, which implies that globalization should help to decrease prejudice by creating sustained and equal contact between previously alien cultures and peoples, and by spreading economic gains to everybody. On the other hand, there is the ‘destructive globalization/globalization as a threat’ thesis, which argues that globalization should increase anti-immigrant prejudice by intensifying competition over resources and by increasing perceived threat by native populations as a result of increasing immigrant populations. We test these two accounts using a multi-level analysis of 64 countries and nearly 150,000 individuals, derived from the World Values Surveys (waves 3–5). Our analyses reveal support for ‘destructive globalization/ globalization as a threat’ thesis, but emphasize the multi-dimensional character of globalization. We find that citizens of countries with higher levels of trade openness have significantly more anti-immigrant sentiments. There is also some evidence that in countries where unemployment is accompanied by high levels of trade openness or the existence of large immigrant populations, citizens hold high anti-immigrant prejudice. By contrast, foreign direct investment (FDI) has a weak effect.

Small Worlds of Diversity: Views Toward Immigration and Racial Minorities in Canadian Provinces

Antoine Bilodeaua, Luc Turgeon, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2012, 45(3): 579-605


Canadian provinces have long been considered as “small worlds,” each with its own cultural distinctiveness and province-building dynamics. This article examines whether these same provincial specificities are observed in terms of attitudes toward immigration intakes and racial diversity. Three questions are asked. First, are there important variations in views toward immigration and racial minorities across Canadian provinces within the native-born white Canadian population? Second, have the differences and similarities changed between 1988 and 2008? And third, do specific provincial economic, demographic, and cultural realities shape provincial public opinion on these matters? The findings indicate that there are significant differences and commonalities in how all provinces react to immigration and racial diversity, that native-born white Canadians have grown increasingly accepting of immigration and racial diversity over time and that views toward immigration and racial diversity are distinct from each other and each responds to a specific set of provincial realities.

Moving West or Going South? Inequality and Institutionalization in Post-Communist Party Systems

Michael H. Bernhard, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper Journal of Comparative Politics, 2011, 44(1): 1-20


Patterns of party system institutionalization have varied widely across regions. In postcommunist democracies, weak party system institutionalization exists at high levels along three dimensions—volatility of representation, party extinction, and incumbency disadvantage—despite sustained economic growth. In these cases, the effects of economic restructuring are critical to electoral outcomes. A sample of democratic elections from 1990 to 2006 shows that postcommunist countries whose reform strategies minimize increases in inequality have more institutionalized party systems.

Civil Society and the Legacies of Dictatorship

Michael H. Bernhard, and Ekrem Karakoç

Journal Paper World Politics, 2007, 59(4): 539-556


The literature on civil society in postcommunist regimes highlights its weakness as compared with civil society in other democracies. In this article the authors make a general argument on how different patterns of antecedent dictatorship affect the development of civil society across a range of democracies. They examine the slow emergence of two behaviors associated with a robust civil society—participation in organizational life and in protest—and explain variation across countries as a function of regime history. They draw their individual-level data from the World Values Survey and analyze the behavior of over forty-one thousand citizens from forty-two democracies. Using methods of hierarchical linear modeling to control for both national-level and individual-level factors, the authors find that different types of dictatorship and variation in their duration produce different negative legacies for the development of civil society.