Daniel is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Politics and International Relations. His research interests include public policy, morality issues, party politics, hybrid regimes, and nationalism. His dissertation explores the causes of changes in morality policy in Turkey, Russia, and Poland, with analysis focusing on religious education, women’s rights, and LGBTQI+ rights. He received the P. Terrence Hopmann award for excellence in teaching in May 2021. His co-authored publications appear in Faith-based Organizations and Public Welfare (Palgrave 2020), Knowledge Resistance in High-Choice Media Environments (Routledge 2022), and the Stanford US-Russia Forum Journal (forthcoming). He holds a B.A. in History and Literature (Russian) from Harvard College and a Masters of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Explaining Morality Politics in Semi-Authoritarian Regimes
In semi-authoritarian regimes like Turkey, Russia, and Poland, governing party leaders often pursue morality issues such as abortion access and same-sex marriage. What advantages, if any, does morality policy pursuit offer to the governing party in semi-authoritarian contexts? Why do governing party actors pursue certain morality policies at certain moments and yet not others in semi-authoritarian regimes? Existing literature focusing on opposition parties’ use of wedge issues to decrease voter support for incumbents in advanced industrialized countries lacks the theoretical and conceptual tools for deciphering morality policy beyond the US and Western Europe. In contrast, I argue that morality policy in semi-authoritarian regimes plays different functions during different phases of regime development: coming to power and keeping power. When parties first come to power, morality policy is a tool for governments to undermine checks and balances from state actors. And, secondly, once state actor veto points are removed, morality policy is a tool for distracting from exogenous issues that threaten the government such as economic crises. To test my theory, this paper uses mixed methods combining experimental and historical analysis to the case of morality politics in Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (2002-2022).