Searching for power-sharing arrangements in the resolution of ethnic conflicts : the case of Kurdish conflict in Turkey

Source Title
Print ISSN
Electronic ISSN
Bilkent University
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Utilizing mixed-method design and multiple data sources (primarily three nationwide public opinion surveys and 113 semi-structured elite interviews), this study examines the power-sharing perspectives in the context of Turkey's Kurdish conflict. It raises two main sets of questions at both elite and mass levels: Who and to what extent does support power sharing arrangements in a multi-ethnic country? Which factors can explain the variance in ethnic group members’ and ethno-political elites’ varying support for power-sharing arrangements? This study shows that Turks and Kurds’ understandings of and interest-formulations with regard to the power-sharing remain irreconcilable both at the mass and elite levels. At the mass-level, the Turks' opposition to the Kurds' ever-growing power-sharing demands remain strong and constant across years. Regarding Kurdish mass support for power sharing, the findings of the multivariate analyses support the main propositions of the grievance theory, whereas they disprove the merits of ‘Muslim brotherhood’ – i.e., sharing an overarching religious identity - and socio-economic approaches. At the elite level, the Kurdish elites remain divided in terms of their outlook to the power-sharing arrangements due to their competing interest-formulations. Challenging the unitary actor assumption of the power-sharing theory, this study advocates that the devolution of power creates winners and losers within the peripheral ethnic groups and, thereby fosters intra-ethnic infighting. This thesis proposes a bi-dimensional re-formulation of power-sharing as a conflict-management tool: vertical dimension, overhauling the power structure between the central government and peripheral groups; and horizontal dimension, regulating the power structure between competing co-ethnic segments within the peripheral group. This thesis concludes that under current conditions power-sharing governance remains infeasible in the resolution of the Turkey's Kurdish conflict.

Other identifiers
Book Title
Ethnic Conflict, Ethnic Infighting, Kurdish Problem, Power-Sharing, Religion
Published Version (Please cite this version)