With a specific focus on Turkey's complex domestic politics within the international system, my dissertation makes several contributions to the study of the interaction between domestic and international factors and the resilience of semi-authoritarian regimes. First, I explore the historical evolution of gaps between the legal status of constitutional rights on paper, and the observation of those rights in practice, and the evolution of this trend from the decline of the Ottoman Empire to the present in Turkey. Second, utilizing participant observation and computational text analysis of nation-wide representative focus group data on the contemporary constitutional reform process in Turkey from 2010 to 2014, I analyze how deliberation is used to gather information that allows regimes to turn political opposition into an opportunity for self-preservation. Using qualitative, quantitative, and computational methods, I find empirical evidence for a semi-authoritarian dynamic.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk oversaw the establishment of constitutionalism in the Republic of Turkey the 1921. In the center, one of many focus groups held in deliberation over constitutional reform in 2012. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister from 2002 onwards, and Turkey's first directly-elected President in 2014, drives the process to enhance Presidential powers, much more likely under emergency rule in place after the attempted coup d'etat of July 2016, likely to be extended through 2017.
The first two analyses consider the softer political influence that a trend towards democratic constitutionalism had historically and in the present in the functioning of semi-authoritarian regimes; the third looks at hard power, or international interventions (or lack thereof) in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and their influence on the constitutional struggle for autonomy by Kurdish groups in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. I address the struggles for autonomy by Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, which present a "natural experiment" research design opportunity to compare the use of constitution-making processes through three paired comparisons: the making of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005, and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq constitution-making process in 2009; the Syrian Constitution's amendment process in 2012 and the promulgation of the Social Contract of the Cantons of Rojava by Kurds in Syria in 2013, and the Kurdish political movement's participation in the post-2007 constitutional reform process in Turkey.