While much of the literature on party politics is situated in the context of national states, globalization and transnationalization processes in recent decades have led to important reforms in terms of voting rights and representation of emigrants, as well as diaspora engagement of national political parties (Van Haute and Kernalegenn 2020).
The aim of this paper, the first on this topic, is to provide an initial assessment of Turkish political parties which have increasingly operated in the United States (U.S.) as part of their broader efforts to engage with the Turkish diaspora and to promote their political agendas abroad.
The emergence of Turkish political parties in the U.S. is driven also by different factors, including the size and diversity of the Turkish diaspora in the U.S., the increasing polarization and instability of Turkish politics, and the growing importance of diaspora politics in global affairs, as well as national legal arrangements. Turkish political parties, namely the Republican People’s Party, People’s Democratic Party and finally the Justice and Development Party, started to open their branches in the U.S. around 2013, following the adoption of a law expanding the rights to vote in national elections to Turkish citizens living abroad in 2012, forming a critical voter pool for the parties.
The reflection of broader trends in Turkish politics towards Islamism, populism, and authoritarianism among the diaspora not only forged the process of extra-territorialization of Turkey's politics but also deepened the divisions along party lines within Turkey's diaspora.
Based on in-depth interviews with the representatives of the above-mentioned three parties from Turkey in the U.S., this paper unpacks the significance of Political Parties Abroad (Van Haute and Kernalegenn 2020), providing insights into the complex and evolving relationship between immigration, politics, and identity, by focusing on the rise of populist and nationalist movements, the increasing importance of diaspora politics, and the challenges and opportunities of transnational political engagement.