Analysis - Friday, December 1, 2017 14:01 - 0 Comments

Political Parties and Conflicts


The deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the bygone heyday of the Armenia-Turkey normalization is often attributed to a lack of political will of the ruling powers in these countries. The incumbent regimes, in their turn, often cite the presumed prevailing positions in their societies to explain their action or inaction in regard to conflict resolution or normalization.

But what are these prevailing positions? Analyzing the “prevailing” positions would be possible if Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey were fully-functioning or aspiring democracies and had an open political public sphere. The “political public sphere”, as defined by Jürgen Habermas, is central to a fully-functioning democracy as the latter, in addition to the legitimacy of electoral processes, also assumes plurality and dialogue where the public opinion could be shaped through open debate by political and societal forces – political parties, movements, labor unions, mass media, advocacy groups, citizens, etc. As Habermas put it, “Only when the exercise of political control is effectively subordinated to the democratic demand that information be accessible to the public, does the political public sphere win an institutionalized influence over the government through the instrument of law-making bodies” (Habermas 1964 (1974)).

Yet, in the past decades in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, we have seen how the ruling parties systematically instrumentalize state institutions and ideologies, such as the education system or militarism, to prevent or suppress pluralistic debate and dialogue. In addition to these relatively subtle forms of control, in recent years, persecutions of independent non-state actors such as the mass media or civil society organizations has led to a further vacuum in public engagement. As a result, there remains little public space where the presumed nationalist consensus can be challenged.

As analyzing the prevailing positions of the societies in the absence of public space is difficult and the available data unreliable, in this part of our publication, we have focused on a survey of the positions of the main political parties and movements in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the Armenia-Turkey normalization process. While interpretations vary on how political parties and movements shape public opinion and are shaped by it, analyzing their competing positions and visions does certainly give a perspective onto the attitudes that exist in the society (Duverger 1954) (Lipset and Rokkan 1967) (Mair 1997) (Sartori 1976).

On December 1, 2017 we published the paper on The Positions of Political Parties in Turkey on the Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Turkey-Armenia Relations” by Tolga Er.

On December 2, 2017, we published the paper on “The Positions of Political Parties in Armenia on the Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Turkey-Armenia Relations” by David Galstyan and the paper on “The Positions of Political Parties and Movements in Azerbaijan on the Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict” by Bakhtiyar Aslanov and Sevinj Samedzadeh.


Duverger, Maurice. 1954. Political Parties: Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State. London: Methuen.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1964 (1974). “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article.” New German Critique 49-55.

La Palombara, Joseph, and Myron Weiner. 1966. Political Parties and Political Development. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Lipset, Seymour Martin, and Stein Rokkan. 1967. Party Systems and Voter Alignments. New York: Free Press.

Mair, Peter. 1997. Party System Change: Approaches and Interpretations. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sartori, Giovanni. 1976. Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schattschneider, Elmer Eric. 1942 (2009). Party Government. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.


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