The role of ideas in political party change: the case of the Republican People’s Party in Turkey (1965-1973)
This dissertation examines the role of ideas as explanatory factors in the phenomenon of party change. Based on historical research on the case of party change in the Republican People’s Party (RPP) between 1965 and 1973, I argue that the specific idea of the “left of center” caused and catalyzed party change in the RPP. Creating a coalition around that idea, a group of actors, the Left of Center Movement, joined the leadership of the RPP in 1966 and gradually took over its rule. Following their ideas, this group changed the policy prescriptions, cadres, organizational composition, and the identity of the RPP. In seven years, the RPP moved from being a “national developmentalist” party and became a “social democratic developmentalist” party, following the “roadmap” of “left of center”. I examine the role of ideas in the party change of the RPP considering differences between actors on “party goals”. In the course of “several external shocks” actors with different ideas on party goals fought over the definition of “left of center” as factions. These factions were gathered around ideas, serving as “coalition magnets”. Ultimately ideational differences explain leadership changes in 1966 and 1972, and two waves of factional exoduses in from the RPP in 1967 and 1972.