Transformation of PoliticalCommunication in Turkey Political communication is an interactive process of transferringinformation through media between politicians and voters.
In thisinteractivity, information is transmitted from politicians to voters and fromvoters to politicians. The main purpose of political communication is topersuade the target group and direct it to the desired voting behavior. Government,political parties, non-governmental organizations, pressure groups,environmental groups and the actors of the different forms that want toinfluence the public domain can take part in the political communicationprocesses. Along with new communication technologies, changes in the nature ofcommunication affect the application areas of political communication. Newmedia technologies have widened the scope of access to political communicationby overcoming time and space constraints, removing mass communication from thehegemony of vertical structures and opening them to the access and use ofindividuals along with social media.The first regulation in this regard was made in radio, which was themost effective mass communication tool when multi-party period had started inTurkey. Radio was put in service of political parties by the Election Law onFebruary 16, 1950.
In the 1950 elections, the Democrat Party managed to come topower using a theme based on the classical slogan “Enough, Public is inCharge”. The posters in which the slogan was placed played a fundamentalrole in wide spreading the theme and marked on 1950 election. Meanwhile, the televisiontrial broadcasts initiated by Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) in1968 in Ankara began to spread throughout Turkey after 1970. The effects oftelevision, which was a new media instrument after newspaper and radio, onpolitical competition were impossible to compare with other mass media organs. Televisionhas affected the election campaigns and political communication fundamentallyin Turkey just like happened in other countries. With the commencement oftelevision broadcasting, it has not been too late to come to a considerable positionover the election campaigns.
In the 1970s the newspapers have begun to focus on public opinion research,reveal the changing profile of Turkish voters and report the obtained dataespecially before the elections. This also signaled that the political partieswould apply the similar research. As a result of that researches, more healthycampaign strategies have been developed and put into practice in the light ofthe obtained information.
The tapes used in pre-election campaigns for 1977 Election also have animportant place for entrance of political ads in Turkey. These tapes which weredistributed in 3 big cities in total number of 20.000, were named “Demirel inyour home”. A special newspaper was prepared and published with the thoughtthat the written press and other means of communication would not be able todeliver the messages exactly and at the desired level. In this period, a significantimprovement was observed especially between the advertising agencies and thepolitical parties.By the 1990s, professional services became a necessity in the light ofthese developments. The establishment of private national and local televisionchannels, the development of written press, briefly in the enriched and variedmedia environment, the communication of political parties and candidates withvoters has shifted rapidly from personal communication to a mass communicationstructure.
Naturally, in Turkey’s changing social and economic conditions after1980, the voter profile has changed too. While there are radical changes in theforms of political information and participation, political parties andcandidates needed professional campaign specialists and political communicationconsultants to keep pace with these changes and to adapt to new mass mediaconditions.Political advertising is the mode of communication in which thestrategic influence of the ruling and opposition positions can be observed mosteasily in the 1995 election. In this election, advertisements published innational newspapers have been used. Political commercial films, hangingposters, banners, flags and publication of public opinion surveys (on massmedia) have been banned by the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) and Radio andTelevision Supreme Council (RTÜK).
In a sense, political advertising waslimited to political press ads in this period.In the 2007elections, the fact that the community did not pay enough attention to the ralliesand other election activities due to the hot weather, made the media even moreimportant. The rallies have also started to become an important instrument of takingpart in the media. In this case, rallies began to be nationalized from thisperiod when they were formerly made for a certain local people. Thus, theleaders did not limit what they talked about in the rallies to just thatregion, but they tried to come to the agenda of both the media and the countryby giving messages about the whole country.In the June2011 elections, both the classical methods and new methods and techniquesconsisting developing communication technologies have been used. The partiesholding parliamentary deputies conducted election campaigns by visiting almostall cities and calling out to large communities. Slogans were integrated intothe projects and presented to the public.
Campaign songs were also usedsuccessfully and broadcasted continuously on radio and television. Exclusivewebsites have been prepared for every political party and even candidate MPs. Socialmedia items such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogs were also used. Politicalparties responded to each other almost instantly, both in the rally areas andthrough social media.
This brought dynamism to election campaigns. Thecommunity was almost waiting for such an instant response.Many items canbe mentioned in the political communication campaign.
Among them, banner, song,slogan, television talk, content shared in social media, leader’s performance,enthusiasm of the squares, television advertisement, newspaper advertisement,face-to-face communication, street adornment and party promises becomepermanent to the extent that they can merge in everyday life and pass into the historyby going beyond the time and speaker. Political communication processes developand grow in a certain political culture. Even a single slogan is conveyed as itis, carrying those cultural codes.
This shows that political communicationelements are actually dynamic contents that can live.