Transformation 1970. The effects of television, which was a

Transformation of Political
Communication in Turkey


Political communication is an interactive process of transferring
information through media between politicians and voters. In this
interactivity, information is transmitted from politicians to voters and from
voters to politicians. The main purpose of political communication is to
persuade 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 to
influence the public domain can take part in the political communication
processes. Along with new communication technologies, changes in the nature of
communication affect the application areas of political communication. New
media technologies have widened the scope of access to political communication
by overcoming time and space constraints, removing mass communication from the
hegemony of vertical structures and opening them to the access and use of
individuals along with social media.

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The first regulation in this regard was made in radio, which was the
most effective mass communication tool when multi-party period had started in
Turkey. Radio was put in service of political parties by the Election Law on
February 16, 1950. In the 1950 elections, the Democrat Party managed to come to
power using a theme based on the classical slogan “Enough, Public is in
Charge”. The posters in which the slogan was placed played a fundamental
role in wide spreading the theme and marked on 1950 election. Meanwhile, the television
trial broadcasts initiated by Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) in
1968 in Ankara began to spread throughout Turkey after 1970. The effects of
television, which was a new media instrument after newspaper and radio, on
political competition were impossible to compare with other mass media organs. Television
has affected the election campaigns and political communication fundamentally
in Turkey just like happened in other countries. With the commencement of
television broadcasting, it has not been too late to come to a considerable position
over 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 data
especially before the elections. This also signaled that the political parties
would apply the similar research. As a result of that researches, more healthy
campaign strategies have been developed and put into practice in the light of
the obtained information.

The tapes used in pre-election campaigns for 1977 Election also have an
important place for entrance of political ads in Turkey. These tapes which were
distributed in 3 big cities in total number of 20.000, were named “Demirel in
your home”. A special newspaper was prepared and published with the thought
that the written press and other means of communication would not be able to
deliver the messages exactly and at the desired level. In this period, a significant
improvement was observed especially between the advertising agencies and the
political parties.

By the 1990s, professional services became a necessity in the light of
these developments. The establishment of private national and local television
channels, the development of written press, briefly in the enriched and varied
media environment, the communication of political parties and candidates with
voters has shifted rapidly from personal communication to a mass communication
structure. Naturally, in Turkey’s changing social and economic conditions after
1980, the voter profile has changed too. While there are radical changes in the
forms of political information and participation, political parties and
candidates needed professional campaign specialists and political communication
consultants to keep pace with these changes and to adapt to new mass media

Political advertising is the mode of communication in which the
strategic influence of the ruling and opposition positions can be observed most
easily in the 1995 election. In this election, advertisements published in
national newspapers have been used. Political commercial films, hanging
posters, banners, flags and publication of public opinion surveys (on mass
media) have been banned by the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) and Radio and
Television Supreme Council (RTÜK). In a sense, political advertising was
limited to political press ads in this period.

In the 2007
elections, the fact that the community did not pay enough attention to the rallies
and other election activities due to the hot weather, made the media even more
important. The rallies have also started to become an important instrument of taking
part in the media. In this case, rallies began to be nationalized from this
period when they were formerly made for a certain local people. Thus, the
leaders did not limit what they talked about in the rallies to just that
region, but they tried to come to the agenda of both the media and the country
by giving messages about the whole country.

In the June
2011 elections, both the classical methods and new methods and techniques
consisting developing communication technologies have been used. The parties
holding parliamentary deputies conducted election campaigns by visiting almost
all cities and calling out to large communities. Slogans were integrated into
the projects and presented to the public. Campaign songs were also used
successfully and broadcasted continuously on radio and television. Exclusive
websites have been prepared for every political party and even candidate MPs. Social
media items such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogs were also used. Political
parties responded to each other almost instantly, both in the rally areas and
through social media. This brought dynamism to election campaigns. The
community was almost waiting for such an instant response.

Many items can
be 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 become
permanent to the extent that they can merge in everyday life and pass into the history
by going beyond the time and speaker. Political communication processes develop
and grow in a certain political culture. Even a single slogan is conveyed as it
is, carrying those cultural codes. This shows that political communication
elements are actually dynamic contents that can live.