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By Sabri Sayari

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The entrepreneurs, merchants, and traders who had found new opportunities in the aftermath of the development policies implemented by the Republican government in the 1930s and 1940s. (Tachau 1984, 65–66) An Overview of Electoral Behavior 41 These classes were divided not only by function but also in terms of social backgrounds. Most industrialists, for example, came from nonelite, nonofficial backgrounds such as small-scale trade, artisanship, shopkeeping, or farming, while civil servants tended to be children of bureaucrats, military officers, or professionals.

The system also manifests greater disparities of ideology and program than was the case in earlier years. Since 1991, the country has witnessed the burgeoning of an Islamist party to the point where its leader was able to become prime minister. The party emerged from the 1995 election with more votes and seats than any other party, roughly twice the highest proportion it had ever achieved in the past. This followed public declarations by the RP’s leader, Erbakan, that he would turn the party into a mainstream mass organization.

Initially, due to the limits that were placed on parties participating in the 1983 elections, this strategy appeared to be working. However, after the reemergence of the pre-1983 parties on the political stage, fragmentation once again became a characteristic feature of the Turkish party system. But the use of an excessively high threshold for parliamentary representation continued to play a crucial role in shaping party competition. 7 percent in 1999) were excluded from the parliament. The redistribution of their votes among those parties that met the 10 percent requirement led to unexpected parliamentary benefits for them in terms of additional seats.

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