The Deep State and Democratic Consolidation in Turkey

By Mehtap Söyler

My single case study “The Deep State and Democratic Consolidation in Turkey” traces the within-case temporal variation of the state (formation, consolidation, and breakdown) from the 17th century Ottoman Empire to the contemporary Turkish Republic. It generates an analytical framework of a path-dependent phenomenon called “deep state” and discusses the conditions for consolidation of democracy in this macro-social setting. Theory-building is based on an eclectic theorization of analytical frameworks of democratization, state consolidation, revolution, civil-military relations, and democratic consolidation. They are modified and combined for generating a middle-range theory, specifically a focused meta-theory which suggests few directly testable hypotheses, but focuses on problem formation as well as on generation and revision of related concepts.

In order to strengthen the causal inferences against basic limits of case studies, the inferences are based on a historical approach to causality, specifically, on path-dependent explanations, which identify causal mechanisms and justify hypotheses by theoretically grounded causal process observations. This path-dependent explanation shows that the deep state emerged as a result of a self-reinforcing historical causation initiated after a critical juncture, i.e. times of heightened contingency during narrowly circumscribed periods, when specific decisions have high political impact with long-term consequences, and pave the way for the formation of institutions that have self-reproducing properties.

The theory-driven type of process tracing necessitates aligning methodology with ontology. Two-level theories and three-level concepts allow for conceptual precision. Four types of causal processes are illustrated in process-tracing explanations. Concepts such as revolution, deep state, and democratic consolidation are theorized as complex forms of causality, i.e. a conjunction of several variables and conditions in a multi-level theory; path-dependent causal process examines the emergence and trajectory of the deep state. Moreover, interaction effects between formal and informal institutions are elaborated; the change of the state and the political regime are related in a reciprocal causality. Finally, linear causality is exemplified by the simple micro-level phenomena that can be examined through the analysis of direct chain of events.

This study develops the literature on democratization, civil-military relations, state consolidation, and democratic consolidation. It makes five arguments based on theoretical debates with respect to these study fields. First, referring to democratization studies, it explores the deep state in the gray zone between authoritarian regimes and consolidated democracies, specifically tutelary democracy and delegative democracy. The analytical framework incorporates the interplay of formal and informal institutions. Second, by referring to the agency-structure debate and the debates on state consolidation, this book employs an integrative, path dependent approach to analyze the emergence and trajectory of the deep state. It demonstrates that deep state refers to a specific pattern of state consolidation. The modern Turkish state employed a similar pattern of state consolidation like the Ottoman Empire.

Third, this case study explores endogeneity, or reciprocal causality, between the state and political regime. Deep state is a mode of dual (formal and informal) type of “domination” (Herrschaft) in a Weberian sense. The critical juncture for the organization of the deep state in the Turkish Republic refers to the change of the state through regime transformation, while democratic consolidation refers to a change of the regime through state transformation. Fourth, by referring to the methodological debates, the debates on civil-military relations and democratization studies, it is argued that the autonomy of the military is correlated with the existence and flourishing of the deep state in tutelary democracies. In delegative democracies, the deep state is correlated with the excessive prerogatives of the executive branch. Moreover, it is suggested that the evaluation of the deep state increases our clarity to delineate the boundary between democracy and autocracy correlated with the level of informality of domination. Finally, this book develops a two-level theory pertaining to democratic consolidation.

Book, forthcoming:


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