Does an enlargement of the European Union inhibit the party establishment of a European party system? Case study of Turkey

Term Paper, 2007

17 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical part of a European party system
2.1 Intergovernmental Approach
2.2 Supranational Approach

3. Fractions in European Parliament
3.1 Party of European socialists (PES)
3.2 European People Party (EPP)
3.3 Cohesion of the fractions in European parliament

4. Turkey and its party system
4.1 Democracy in Turkey
4.2 Establishing of democracy
4.3 Recent politics in Turkey
4.4 The 2003 elections
4.5 Reasons for the elections in Turkey

5. Conclusion

6. Literature

1. Introduction

The European Union (EU) has been a very heterogeneous building since the start. The difficult task is forming a party system which fits the different national parties in coalitions that are able to produce results. With the now 25 members this seems even more problematic, since the states of Eastern Europe have a tradition that differs significantly from the countries in Northern and Western Europe.

It is, therefore, necessary to prove if party cohesion on the European level exists. If members of European Parliament (EP) would only vote on national interest, party coalitions would not serve their purpose. There needs to be cohesion towards the coalition in order to establish real European elections instead of second order national elections. In order to achieve this it is also necessary to be able to have a public opinion that can be organized into majorities (Beetham/Lord, 2001:77).

The questions, therefore, remain if the EU is able to establish even more members in its middle. It might be the case that new members would decline the party cohesion even further and that would make It even more difficult to establish true European elections.

In this paper, special emphasis will be on the role of Turkey and the adoptability into the party system. The leading hypotheses will be that the cleavages lines which are important for Turkish voters are too different in order to adopt to leading European ideas. A sup-question is also if the Eastern European countries have yet performed this step.

The paper will start with a normative frame that points out how an ideal democracy could work on the European level. Because of shortage of space this can not be discussed in total depth, but the presented ideas will serve as a framework.

After the theoretical part, the focus will be on the European system as it works today. Special emphasis will be on the party coalitions and their impact on the voting behaviour of members of parliament (MEP). It is essential to describe why national parties have agreed to work together and what political solutions they prefer. Since there are seven coalitions in the EP today, not all can be fully analysed. Therefore, the two biggest groups (EVP-ED and SPE) will mainly be the focus, since they hold over 60% of the seats.

The next part will analyse the Turkish system and what kind of issues are deciding for Turkish voters. The history of democracy will be the starting point of this analysis before the present situation will be the focus.
The conclusion will, therefore, be based on the question if Turkey’s party system can adapt to the EU, and, thus, the entry of Turkey into the EU is feasible taking these conditions into account.

2. Theoretical part of a European party system

Democratisation on the European level is not perfect yet, a thesis which most scientists would agree on. There are two different approaches from which the ideal type of system for the EU is described, namely the intergovernmental and the supra-national approach. Both types will be described and the strength and weaknesses each will be pointed out.

2.1 Intergovernmental Approach

An intergovernmental form of system in the EU would mean that the national governments are the crucial actors. Legitimisation for the voters would be indirect, since voters vote for their national governments, and the governments send people to act on the European level (Schubert, Klein, 2006: 147).

This is also the classical case for international organisations. The UN or NATO, for example, work within these criteria. Since national governments are the sign of voter’s privileges they might also represent them on the international level.

Some scholars such as Andrew Moravcsik argue that representation through national governments is still the best form which democracy can have on the European level. (Follesdal/ Hix, 2005: 12). But most scholars argue that because of the far reaching decision power, the EU can not rely on this anymore. One of the main arguments against the EU as an intergovernmental organisation is that the national governments are not able to control the decisions on the EU level anymore. Especially the Commission might enjoy too much freedom to sustain the notion, that legitimacy can be arranged through national government (Beetham/Lord, 2001, 67).

Another argument that goes in the same direction is the limited acting ability of national governments. Since European law breaks the law of the state, governments often claim that they do not have enough options too implement the wanted law (Mair, 2005: 12).

Once a law of the EU level is in power, it is virtually impossible for the national states to gain their influence back. This leads to rising influence of the EU which will become even more important in the future. Already today the EU can not be compared to other international organizations, because of its far reach into the daily life of the citizens. Therefore, a new form of co-operation needs to be established.

The influence on the daily life becomes even bigger. Thus it would be inevitable that citizens have options to decide on the system under which they live. The mentioned example with legitimisation through national governments has another weak point, namely that governments are individually authorized, but not as a total to serve on the European level (Beetham/Lord, 70: 2001). Decisions which are taken on the EU level, might not necessarily reflect the positions of national governments who in return have a justification towards their voters.

Conclusively, it can be said that the intergovernmental problem offers too many problems in order to be the goal for the actual EU politics. Citizens need to have a higher representation, considering the rising influence of the EU on the daily life.

2.2 Supranational Approach

The supranational approach addresses the impossibilities of national states too directly decide the issues which are met on the EU level. Once the power is handed over from national states toward Europe, the influence of each state decreases versus the rising influence of the EU (Schubert, Klein, 296: 2006).

This idea recognizes especially the shrinking control that national parliaments have on European decision making. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to argue that an indirect form of representation is enough to ensure citizens influence. Scholars, who agree with this arguments, mainly discuss which concrete steps can be taken in order to achieve this.

One main problem is that the society is not homogenous, and, therefore, no public opinion exits. The media is not involved in the discussion and there is no recognized opposition (Follesdal/Hix, 2005: 15-20).

If MEP would only vote on national lines, elections would not be necessary because voters could be ensured that no matter which party from one country makes the decision, the decisions would not differ. If for example, MEP of the CDU would take the same decisions as their national counterparts from the SPD, it would not make sense to distinguish between them and cast a ballot for one of the parties. However, there is recent evidence that those national lines are more broken up in the recent years (Hix, 2004: 1). The left-right issue becomes more important than the national identity, which will be shown in more detail in the next part.

A European party system would, therefore, be necessary too increase the legitimacy of the system. Since no real European parties have gained influence yet, another solution would be the co-operation of existing national parties that work together on an ideological basis. This would reduce the national lines towards, for example, the difference between capital and work. The next part will take the existing co-operations and fractions under closer examination. It is important that those trends will get recognized by a wider audience. If the different groups of parties would point more strongly towards their differences the public might see that alternatives are present.

In order to develop such a competition, the party groups need to work closely together. It would be helpful if the groups would be homogenous, in order to make it possible that the parties work together. It is not necessary that the parties loose their identity, but common goals should be the basis of the co-operation. The agreement does not have to go as far as the one of normal parties that are described as “a set of persons, that have mostly agreements on their values” (Wiesendahl, 2006: 7). A certain value agreement however is nonetheless important.


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Does an enlargement of the European Union inhibit the party establishment of a European party system? Case study of Turkey
University of Twente  (Political Institute )
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Daniel Schmidt (Author), 2007, Does an enlargement of the European Union inhibit the party establishment of a European party system? Case study of Turkey , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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