Political consequences of welfare regimes: social assistance and support for presidentialism in Turkey Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2019

start page

  • 485

end page

  • 511


  • 4


  • 24

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1360-8746

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1743-9612


  • Tackling redistributive expansion in developing countries, this paper explores broader political consequences of social assistance programmes. Drawing from the Turkish case, where social welfare expanded since the 2000s, it examines attitudes of social assistance beneficiaries towards transition to presidentialism, which was approved in a referendum in 2017, and took effect in 2018. Using the results of an original survey, it indicates that social assistance benefits played a significant role in increasing support for presidentialism, by garnering votes from opposition voters, especially those with high-risk perceptions, in return for benefits. Given the character of Turkish presidentialism, devoid of vital checks and balances, the findings reveal that incumbents can mobilise support by using redistributive instruments in the context of democratic backsliding.


  • democratic backsliding; social assistance; akp; presidentialism; political risk perception; political attitudes; bolsa-familia; state; economy; neoliberalism; clientelism; continuity; poverty; system; model