POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION IN TURKEY AND THE POLITICAL ELITES A Revision of the Theory of Center-Periphery and the “The New Elites as an Elite Coalition” in Turkey
TÜRKİYE’DE POLİTİK DEĞİŞİM VE SİYASİ ELİTLER Merkez-Çevre Kuramının Gözden Geçirilmesi ve Türkiye’de Bir “Elit Koalisyonu Olarak Yeni Elitler”

Author : İhsan KURTBAŞ
Number of pages : 179-204


If one wants to explain the political change and the relations between the rulers and the ruled in Turkey by a single parameter, that would certainly be the cycle of the elites. One of the primary and most important studies tracing this issue is Şerif Mardin’s theory of the center and periphery. Mardin argues that a particular period of Turkish politics is based on a mentality of patronage in which a center isolated from the society takes decisions and acts upon them from above for the people despite the will of the people. Although the people had the power to bring the political elite to the power through the elections within the confines of the center-periphery relationship, in fact they could not render these elite capable of enjoying this power in practice. The discrepancy between the people who are in power and those who are competent to rule in practice caused alienation and a feeling of not being represented among the people. Although the theory of center-periphery which also hightlights the struggle between the Eastern(ist)-Werstern(ist) in Turkish politics was practical in explaining the period during which it was articulated, it is today quite simplistic and anachronic vis-a-vis the contemporary political realities. In this context, the main argument of this study is that the elites of the center could not resist the intense and strong effect of diffusion coming from the periphery and that an elite cycle took place in the form of a “change of place” among the center and the perihery. Thus the contemporary elite structure evolved from a sharp, uniform and coherent dichotomy of elites to an “elite coalition” which is mainly comprised of the conservative, middle class origined, well-educated people of different economic, social and ideological backgrounds. The "New Elites" as an elite coalition is such a historical, sociological and political reality that it can be argued that before, the large number of people who used to bring the elites to power but could not render them able for ruling, brought the elites both to power as well as rendered them able for ruling.


Political Change, Political Elites, The Theory of Center-Periphery, Elite Coalition, The New Elites

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