Culture, Socio-Economic Development, and Refugee Immigration: A Spatial Analysis of the 2017 Referendum in Turkey

2018-6-24
The 2017 referendum on controversial constitutional amendments witnessed a fierce competition in Turkey. Despite the joint campaign of AK Party (current ruling party) and MHP (nationalist party), the electoral outcome yielded only a slight edge for accepting the amendments (Yes 51%, No 49%). Why was there such a narrow margin of victory? What explains the defection among MHP voters at the aggregate level? Our paper examines these questions through a unique dataset along with spatiallyautoregressive and multilevel modeling techniques. We collect the sub-provincial and provincial level electoral results since 2002, and match them with the 2004 socioeconomic development data from the Ministry of Development and the 2017 development data from the Ministry of Health. In addition, we add provincial level mosque information, and sub-provincial level official Syrian refugee numbers to the dataset. The advanced geospatial and multilevel models show strong empirical support for our hypotheses. Cultural indicators are as likely as socioeconomic features to explain the 2017 referendum results in Turkey after controlling for political factors. The number of Syrian refugees in provinces diminishes the level of support for “yes” whereas the number of mosques boosts its support. The refugee migration also explains the MHP voters who defected in the referendum: the higher the number of refugees in a sub-province, the more likely that the voters in that sub-province vote against the constitutional amendments. All models show that voting in Turkey has considerable levels of spatial dependency - the neighborhood matters.

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Citation Formats
İ. C. Özen, “Culture, Socio-Economic Development, and Refugee Immigration: A Spatial Analysis of the 2017 Referendum in Turkey,” Chicago, 2018, p. 1, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/91532.