Political Socialisation and Participation through Youth Branches of Political Party Organisations in Turkey
International Relations Istanbul Bilgi University ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Youth branches under the political parties' structure have been one of the most important mechanisms of political socialization and participation in Turkey. This paper is based on the results derived from a field study which is conducted between 2008 June-2009 January through focus group interviews (10 interviews with 68 participants, between 18 and 24 ageS) with the members of the youth branches of ten political parties (inside and outside the parliament) in Turkey. During interviews it is firstly investigated that which factors and mechanisms have been influential on political socialization and participation of youth in Turkey; secondly, how belated establishment of youth branches of political parties in Turkey contributed to these processes; thirdly, how structural and institutional processes such as party system and electoral system shaped the youth participation in Turkish politics. Moreover, approaches of youth representatives of political parties in Turkey to national and global politics issues as well as the conception of political, democracy (intra-party democracy in particular and parliamentary democracy in general), participation mechanisms in decision-making processes are elaborately presented. A particular attention will also be given to their stories of engagement in politics-political parties and personal experiences influential on their political views and identification. In the last part, critical reflections will be presented to understand factors constraining wider political participation of youth population with reference to the formal character of representative democracy rather than participatory and deliberative, centralized and highly hierarchic party system and ineffective functioning of electoral systems to support youth branches of political parties. Within these considerations, a panorama of youth political socialization, mobilization and participation through youth branches of political parties in Turkey is figured out and structural constrains on youth involvement in politics as a key feature of democratic life are discussed.