German Turkish Masters Program in Social Sciences Course ID: GTSS 502 Instructors: Prof. Dr.

Helga Rittersberger-TILIC

Positioning the Turkish Welfare Regime in the European Context
The influence of the European Social Model on Turkish welfare state transformation

Stefan Kohlwes Student ID: 1714617 Ankara 10 June 2010

Contents 1. 2. Introduction..................................................................................................................................... 3 European Welfare Regimes – convergence or divergence? ........................................................... 4 2.1 2.3 3. The European Social Model ..................................................................................................... 6 Conclusion: is the European Social Model really a model?..................................................... 9

The Turkish Welfare Regime: .......................................................................................................... 9 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 A short historical background of the Turkish Welfare State ................................................. 10 Three informal channels of welfare provision ...................................................................... 11 The deficits of the Turkish Social System: ............................................................................. 14 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition - social security reform: ............................................ 15

4. Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion................................................................................. 17


Turkey. Introduction This paper provides a case study of the Turkish welfare regime in a comparative perspective. Public spending on welfare is among the lowest in the OECD countries. A formal welfare regime is yet to be constructed and even though the struggle for greater efficiency certainly plays a role. Might Turkey. Many scholars. The prevailing perception in the literature describes the welfare state as a European invention. Turkey is in a different position. In the framework of the accession negotiations with the European Union. Thus. The aim is not merely to analyze the path that Turkey has embarked upon with the recent reform packages under the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP – Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi). see the welfare state currently under sever attack by the continuing promotion of a neoliberal agenda as well as by economical. whereas cuts in public spending and especially in welfare are discussed and promoted in most European countries. even mirror the vision of how the European Union pictures its future welfare states to be? 3 . however. it is furthermore our concern to evaluate to what extent an influence of current debates on the European Welfare States and in specific on a “European Social Model” can be retraced within the process of welfare state transformation in Turkey. Turkey provides a very interesting and distinct example of welfare regimes in transition. emerged from a state tradition interlinked with European countries yet highly distinct from them at the same time. social and political questions and predicaments generally associated with the notion of globalization. still highly mobile as to its low degree of institutionalization and allegedly being influenced by European ideas. even admonishers of budget discipline and public spending cuts such as the World Bank and the IMF advice Turkey to increase their spending on welfare provision.1. As will be shown. as a country positioned at the periphery of geographical as well as political Europe. the provision of welfare services especially in the field of social security has not played a prominent role until now but is more and more to be seen on the political agenda. Having its origins in industrialization and the rise of social tensions. it has come to be a highly institutionalized component of European state tradition. Even though political concepts of modernization and westernization have shaped the path Turkey has taken over the last century.

orthodox Marxian scholars regard welfare policies as designed by the state to appease the working class and thus continuously solidify the existing capitalist system and smoothening/concealing its inherent unjust social relations and contradictions. European Welfare Regimes – convergence or divergence? The main aim of this brief introduction on European welfare regimes is to put the following chapters into a balanced perspective. regards welfare as an unaffordable social cost and as having a detrimental impact on individual morality and motivation. The conservative narrative. 4 . In the conclusion the question will be discussed whether Turkey converges towards a “European Social Model. Whereas the formerly critical social democracy has come to identify itself with the welfare state. In the meantime. This will be done not only in order to frame the discussion about an alleged “European Social Model” but also to carve out some crucial differences between most European welfare regimes and the Turkish one. welfare provision by the state has come to be seen as an essential part of modern states. meanwhile. the aim within the scope of this paper cannot be to provide a detailed evaluation of specific reforms in a certain domain of the welfare state. the most pressing socioeconomic and structural shortcomings and finally the transformation under the AKP-led government shall put the Turkish welfare state into (European) perspective. Emphasis will be put on outlining the debate about divergences and trends of convergence among European welfare regimes. the discussion about the welfare states origins and its aims has never ebbed away and is reaching in fact new peaks. An evaluation of the historical legacies of state-society and state-market traditions. The German Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck was the first to introduce a system of work-based social insurance in times of not only rising social tensions in the course of the industrializationinduced social questions but also in times of hardening class-divisions and the political mobilization of the working class. A short introduction about the current debates of (European) welfare tradition and a discussion about a common European conception of the welfare state coined with the concept “European Social Model” shall provide the framework.” 2.Considering this rather broad conceptual question. Still. The dominant narrative within the literature discussing the development of welfare states considers the welfare state as a European and a capitalist invention.

the second idea is that with modernization. the family. a forth type based on special characteristics of southern-European countries was added to EspingAndersons typology1. all models faced. which is institutionalized on the basis of employment and the supporting role of the family. the conservative model. and the Scandinavian model where a universal approach based on equal citizenship is of great importance for the design of social policies. a set of problems deriving from developments which were everything but limited to the national sphere: demographic trends leading to the ageing of population and changes in family structures. Myles & Pierson 2001: 312 ff). the emergence of post-industrial service economies. the convergence thesis argues that gradually welfare states tend to converge with each other. fourth type. and changing labour markets state policies in the light of enhanced international competition (Buğra & Keyder 2003: 12 ff). The first idea is related to Esping-Anderson’s prominent typology of welfare regimes focusing on path-dependent development and the ensuing immobility of welfare states due to high degrees of institutionalization (Achterberg & Yerkes 2009: 1. albeit as a matter of fact to quite different extents. As the Turkish welfare regime is usually categorized within that last. there are two ideas dominating the current discourse about the laws behind the development of welfare states. Both ideas shall be discussed briefly: The concept of “welfare regime” is defined in terms of the different roles that institutions such as the state. and the labor market play in sustaining the livelihood of the individual in society (Grütjen 2008: 113). flexible production patterns replacing the Fordist production system. Gelissen. At the latest since the international (Western) paradigmatic shift in political economy which occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the course of financial crises and increasing impact of globalization. Concerning the critique on EspingAndersons typology see: Arts. pp. In alleged contrast. 137-159 5 1 .Notwithstanding this ongoing and crucial debate. Thus. John (2002) Three worlds of welfare capitalism or more? A state-of-the-art report in: Journal of European Social Policy 12. countries are growing more alike. Later. Esping-Anderson introduced this concept and defined three types of welfare regime in developed Western countries: the market-oriented Anglo-Saxon model. Wil. it shall be discussed more thoroughly at a later point.

” As bureaucratic and legal question are of immense complexity. what would be the use of such a minimum standard obligation? In the scope of this paper it is only to a limited extent possible to retrace the multi-faceted debate on the “European Social Model. Convergence is hence perceived as leading towards a kind of “neo-liberal welfare state” (Achterberg 2009: 4). For others.2003) Is the European Union with its conception of a European Social Model a factor actively “producing” convergence? Before we approach an answer with reference to the Turkish case we shall first clarify if there is enough convergence. i. Within that context.e.It is those shared factors pressing for change and the emergence of a neoliberal agenda promoted as an international remedy that gave rise to the second idea of increasing convergence.1 The European Social Model „For some in the EU the expression „European Social Model“ evokes warm feelings of social justice and solidarity. 2. Labour Party. 6 . the following paragraph will mainly focus on sketching general ideas on European welfare on the one hand and on the feasibility that the concept has impact on the transformation process in Turkey as a candidate for full membership. How do policy and decision makers in the EU picture a common social model to be? The definition of European minimum standards of welfare that states should provide its citizens would be in line with the neoliberal ideology in case the minimum is set low enough and would at the same time pay credit to the still very different national setting in the 27 EU member states. agreement between the 27 member states in terms of social policies to define a relative coherent European Social Model. Besides alleged institutional obstacles opposed to the implementation of more stringent common social policies on a European level. it just raises the blood pressure“ (Anna Diamantopoulou – Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs. There is thus a widespread perception that the changing global environment fosters a “race to the bottom” and leads to a much more modest level of social provision. A strong narrative is that generous social provision in the context of global economic change represents an unaffordable luxury for advanced industrial societies. it is exactly the question connected to this assumption which is crucial. On the other hand.

even though a European Social Model is currently much more defined by soft law. policy recommendations and joint commitments to certain values than by accountable law (to use this neoliberal jargon). liberalizing state-owned industries and infrastructure functions. it is foremost used to highlight common European patterns in contrast to those in the USA. While at the national level economic policy and policies concerning social protection still have more or less the same constitutional status. National welfare states are constitutionally constrained by the “supremacy” of all European rules of economic integration. The heterogeneity of welfare states increased with each new member state. Yet. the European integration process has created a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between policies promoting market efficiencies and policies promoting social protection and equality. the European integration process was foremost concerned with removing tariff barriers.). At the same time they must operate under the fiscal rules of monetary union while their revenue base is eroding as a consequence of tax competition and the “need” to reduce nonwage labor costs (Scharpf 2002: 666). Until today. Politically.The first treaties of Rome leading to the creation of the European Economic Community did not attempt to harmonize policy fields such as social regulations or taxation. liberalization and competition law. with the very important stability and growth pact. it is used in White Papers of the European Commission as a concept and is constant object of discussion. Russia or Latin America but it is also presented as a necessary counterweight to the process of economic integration (Manning 2007: 493). As a consequence of that imbalance and the great diversity of welfare regimes among the 27 EU member states. eliminating national control over exchange rates and monetary policy and finally. rigidly constraining public sector deficits of its member states. a uniform European legislation in field of the social-policy has hardly exceeded the relatively low minimal standards that are acceptable to all Member States. 7 . It was thus foremost economic integration and its inherent economic aims and not social policy consciously dealing with and targeting social problems that effected social policies in member countries. The following process of European integration from Rome over the Single European Act to Maastricht and its commitment to the European Monetary Union was exclusively framed by considerations of market integration and liberalization (Scharpf 2002: 646 ff.

do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:SOM:EN:HTML (accessed: 5 June 2010) 3 2 The European Trade Union Confederation on the European Social Model: http://www.etuc. equality and solidarity. While leaving effective policy choices at the national level. “essential services and an income that enables every individual to live in dignity. charters and international agreements. equal treatment. equality between men and women or trade union rights. “improved living and working conditions” … “proper social protection”. The treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) set down fundamental social objectives such as the “promotion of employment”. the aim to reach a greater convergence in terms of social policy was explicitly stated and a method to reach that aim was agreed upon: the “open method of coordination”.europa. “dialogue between management and labor” or “the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion. Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union & Charter of fundamental Rights of the European Union: http://eurlex.General objectives in terms of social policy and the vision of a “Social Europe” have been formulated in many treaties.2 The European Trade Union Confederation meanwhile formulates even more broadly the principles of the European Social Model as “creating a more equal society” by “ending poverty and poverty wages”.3 Further more or less concrete regulations have been part of succeeding Treaties such as the Social Protocol of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 with its “formulation of standards” on working time and equal opportunity regulations. information and consultation.” The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights includes chapters on freedoms. social security and social assistance. or in the “social acquis” as part of the acquis communautaire defining “obligations” in the framework of individual employment (contracts and relationships of employment. in the Lisbon European Council in 2007. health and safety at work) and collective labor relations (worker representation. rights to fair and just working conditions. collective redundancy).org/a/2771 8 .eu/JOHtml. it tries to improve these through promoting common objectives and common indicators and through comparative evaluations of national policy performance. discrimination. “guaranteeing fundamental human rights”. Moreover.

2. After a short overview over Turkey’s recent economic history under the influence of globalization and neoliberalism. the emphasis will be put on sketching the Turkish Welfare regime in its broad characteristics as well as on defining the biggest challenges. the character of a European Social Model seems to be relatively distinct. The Turkish Welfare Regime: The structure and expansion of welfare states depends on socioeconomic factors. specific national characteristics as well as the context of global and European trends in the last three decades which some refer to as the decline of welfare states. as well as the level of economic development. The following evaluation of the Turkish welfare regime and the recent reforms of the social security system shall thus take into account both. the word “model” hints at a progressive real convergence of views among member states on general aims which they seek to achieve in employment and social policy. reminds as in fact of the neoliberal jargon in its “third way-design”. In its whole design to stress the coexistence and in fact interdependence of “economic growth” and “social justice”4 and “competitiveness” and “solidarity”. Even if the term “European Social Model” escapes precise definition. and even though it tends to conceal the vast differences between the 27 member welfare states. 3. A short evaluation of the recent reforms will be made in order to be able to define a “direction” of Turkish social policies. 4 As a neoliberal term 9 . While there is indeed. as a model. it has.3 Conclusion: is the European Social Model really a model? It is claimed here that the European Social Model exists foremost because it is used as a concept in official documents of the European Commission. a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between social and economic regulations and legislation. tradition. “anticipatory” and “aspirational” character (Diamantopoulou 2003: 3). ideology. Similar to expressions such as “European Union” or “Common Foreign and Security Policy”. as Scharpf has stated. To what extent a European Social Model could also build a future counterweight vis-à-vis the contradictions of neoliberalism seems to be a justified question.

Thatcher and the politics of Retrenchment. a large public sector and high figures of state-owned enterprises. a move connected to its most prominent and radical precursors Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA. Cem Utku (2009) Social Security Reform in Turkey: Different usages of Europe in shaping the national welfare reform 7 6 5 10 . Turkey is usually classified as belonging to the SouthernEuropean type. Cambridge. Turkey has until then had a long tradition of etatism. vol. 111 – 129. the emergence of neoliberalism did not come along with calls to “dismantle the welfare state.” Cambridge University Press. With reference to Esping-Andersons typology. to provide some safety mechanism against social contingencies (inability to earn income when sick or old).3. Daniel (2009) The Turkish Welfare Regime: An Example of the Southern European Model? The Role of the State. we will make use of a terminology provided by Elveren on the one hand and Buğra & Keyder on the other. Most prominent among them. The reforms and programs implemented at the beginning of the 1980s thus signaled a dramatic shift in the state’s role in market and society and its economic policies which had sever effects on the structure of the Turkish labor market.”6 This derives from the fact that the Turkish Welfare Regime was not and still is not nearly comparable to European states in its attempt to guarantee “individuals and families a minimum level of income. pp. Paul Pierson (1996) “Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan. Steps of privatization and liberalization had been incremental and always accompanied by severe political tensions. pp. Market and Family in Welfare Provision in: Turkish Policy quarterly. and ensure some equality concerning social services” (Asa Briggs in: Elveren 2008: 213). Duyulmus.1 A short historical background of the Turkish Welfare State Turkey’s encounter with neoliberalism pretty much occurred at the same time as in Europe. „Dismantling the Welfare State“ is an expression frequently used in the literature to refer to the impact of neoliberal policies on the welfare states. Different attempts have been made to classify Turkey’s welfare regime. Cambridge. where the politics of Keynesian demand management and comparatively expansive state regulation were abandoned to shift towards a new dogma/conceptualization of (re-) commodification of labor and dis-organization of capitalism in the 1980s5.1. Very different from most European countries. Both terms stress the same characteristic See for example: Bob Jessop (2002) The Keynesian Welfare National State and The Schumpeterian Competition State in: The Future of Capitalist State.7 In the following. See for example Grütjen. Politiy Press. 55-139. however. 7 no.

Elveren refers to Turkey –being a “developing country” – as an “indirect and minimalist welfare regime” (Elveren 2008: 214). as one possible provider of welfare along with the market and informal networks. Buğra & Keyder meanwhile use the term “inegalitarian corporatist welfare regime”(Buğra. subordinate role. Keyder 2006: 211). The formal social security system is characterized as a highly fragmented and hierarchical system of a corporatist character which provides combined health and pension benefits to formally employed heads of household according to their status at work. predominantly through informal employment.which has also been widely discussed as being part other Soutern-European countries such as Spain. “possibilities of informal housing” and foremost the importance of family and neighborhood assistance mechanisms” (B&K 2006: 220). Buğra & Keyder stress the problem inherent in an inegalitarian system. it attributes itself) a small. Considering the widespread assessment that industrialized and democratic states need a broad welfare regime to reproduce itself. A universal social assistance scheme tied to citizenship as existent in most European countries. it is necessary to contemplate the specific character of the informal channels of welfare provision in Turkey that have played and are partially still playing a great role in keeping relative stability in spite of the severe socio-economic impact of Turkey’s neoliberal course change in the 1980s and 1990s. priviledging particular interests. The characteristics of the Turkish welfare regime which lie behind both terms shall be topic of this chapter.2 Three informal channels of welfare provision Buğra & Keyder define the three most important channels of welfare provision as the “continuing ties of newly urbanized immigrants with their villages of origin”. 3. the current system cannot achieve coverage for a sufficiant part of the Turkish population. Whereas many family members migrate to cities. Greece or Portugal. is attributed (as a matter of fact. does not exist. is often a contribution to the family’s 11 . The Turkish labor market is characterized by a relatively high significance of agricultural employment still comprising about 40% of the workforce (B&K 2003: 16). Given that the labor market structure has long been and still is characterized by its high figures of informally employed as well as unpaid family labor. The long and to some extent still persisting durability of those channels can to some extent be explained by the specific dynamic of the rural urbandivide and the character of urbanization in Turkey. the money earned. Wheras Elverens terminology hints at the fact that the state.

In spite of those developments. Through eventual formalization of those occupied spaces they also became owners of land and real estate.common income. agricultural policies that have contributed to the survival of small family farms. They have also kept in place a socioeconomic order where family solidarity could compensate for the absence of a formal security system that could effectively deal with risk situations such as unemployment. Thus. or the gecekondu solution to the urban housing problem do not constitute a formal policy of income and employment but they have been successful in keeping unemployment and worse forms of poverty under control. “traditional” channels of welfare provision (World Bank 2005 in Grütjen 2008: 3). The family is the third and most important pillar of informal welfare provision in Turkey (a common and crucial feature of the Southern European welfare state). urban immigrants had the possibility to occupy public land in the periphery of cities. The official “moral legitimacy” the gecekondu had enjoyed. Elveren and Yeldan all stress the role of the neoliberal transformation as having deteriorating effects not only on the Turkish economy and the structure of the Turkish labor market but also on the hitherto existing informal channels of welfare provision. they were not only “provided” with free housing. The second factor might be called – in Elveren’s words – an indirect provision of welfare by the state. Before the 1980s. however. thus maintaining a system of informal mutual assistance and social security. Being 12 . These so-called gecekondu were furthermore “mechanisms” that could transfer whole networks of family and neighborhood from the countryside into the city. thus disposing of a source of wealth and social security. Buğra & Keyder. started to erode during the 1990s when an increasingly affluent middle class started to be tended by the real estate market thereby commodifying land that had thereto served as a source of social security for relatively indigent urban migrants. sickness or age (Buğra 2003: 56ff). the family continues to be regarded as the key element of the Turkish welfare system. Even though family and neighborhood assistance also practically continues to be an important source of social security. That means at the same time that many urban immigrants can still rely on mutual forms of assistance being provided by the family. The state for a long time having been an “employer of last resort” with its state-owned enterprises. developments exceeding the Turkish case such as declining birth rates and the increasing dwindling of the extended to the nuclear family in the urban context has put further pressure on Turkey’s informal.

has come to be seen as one of the major challenges to the Turkish welfare state. With the breaking away of state-provided employment. 13 . and a shift from agricultural to industrial employment (in Turkey as a lateindustrializing country to a much lesser degree) and later in the service sector. Whereas on average 56% of women in the EU 27 were employed in 2005. Today. though not a new phenomenon. Turkey had and still has severe problems to maintain traditional forms of welfare policies as well as to adapt to the socio-political challenges that come along with privatization. poverty in various forms. Turkey counted not more than 23. the state did not provide formal protection against risk categories such as sickness or age. liberalization but also a new type of urbanization. Recent studies have indicated that female employment in the informal sector has risen significantly as especially badly paid home-work and so-called piece-work performed by women plays an increasingly important part in securing sufficient family income. providing social protection to a small minority of the population formerly employed in the public or industrial sector. Turkey – to use a political jargon – “lacks behind” in terms of tackling those challenges and social problems. the figures people employed in the informal labor market increased significantly. The World Economic Forum ranked Turkey 105 among 115 countries in terms of equal opportunities of women on the labor market. in turn immense financial strains on the long-term financing of the slowly transforming social security system. As in many developing countries. the World Bank estimates that about half of the Turkish labor force works in the informal sector. In many different areas. The low labor-force participation rate of women also poses a serious problem for the long-term financing of the social security system as many of them are passively insured over their husbands without paying any premiums.” The fight against child labor and the integration of women into the Turkish labor market for example pose serious challenges to be dealt with by the Turkish state (Turkey 2009 Progress Report: 65). the already mentioned form of “inegalitarian corporatism” developed. but rather provided formal employment opportunities in state owned enterprises or indirectly in state-protected private sector enterprises. World Bank reports on the Turkish and regular assessments of the European Union give evidence that the socio-economic problems is facing and will be facing are immense and on very different “battlegrounds.7% (Grütjen 2008: 3).exposed to hard competition from abroad and to the logic of international finance. This puts. Thus. With the erosion of informal welfare provision.

Unequal distribution of social services This aspect underlines what Buğra & Keyder have termed as „inegalitarian corporatist regime. 4. Four main deficits of the Turkish social system can be defined. 2. Considering current demographic developments. Every other services. Non-existence of universal social rights connected to citizenship Social assistance schemes connected to citizenship do not yet exist. for example offered by social institutions funded by the state.“ Different social insurance agencies each tending a specific clientele offer different services and thus solidify inequality within the population. respectively which the Turkish social security system is not able to tackle. 1. 37% does not have any entitlement to pensions. have a highly volatile character (Grütjen 2008: 4ff) 14 .3.3 The deficits of the Turkish Social System: These problematic developments due to a complicated mixture of trends which exceed the Turkish borders and the specific historic legacy of welfare conceptions in Turkey lead to a set of serious problems which the formal Turkish security system is exposed to.5 % of the Turkish population is covered by health care insurances. Whereas officially 84. 3. Insufficient coverage of the population: This deficit refers to the quota of people who are covered as well as to the benefits payed. Only in the USA and in Mexico less people are covered by the public health care system. Turkey might be facing serious problems. the World Bank published figures around 67%. while the Food Poverty line defined by the World Bank was 85 TL). a great part of the Turkish population has to pay for medical care by themselves. High indebtedness of social insurance agencies The main reason is to be found in the structure of the Turkish labor market. Only those services which are offered in the framework of social insurances are connected to legal entitlements. Only 41% of the Turks older than 65 receive payments out of pension insurance schemes. Thus. About 22% are entitled to a minimum pension (65 TL in 2005. People employed in the informal labor market do not pay premiums yet most of them are insured passively with the head of the household.

In the 2002 and 2003 reports. it is stated that – in terms of social policies – “amendments to the current legislation are still needed in order to ensure the proper functioning of the social security system and to ensure its fiscal sustainability” (Commission Communication 1999). “European Union Council Decision of 19 May 2003” 2003 9 8 15 . in its economic conditions enabling a country eventually to full membership. In the Council Decisions in 2001 and 2003. as clear and measurable. the recommendation concerning reforms in social security clearly promote economic development and the creation of a high level of competitiveness before dealing with concerns such as social equality or poverty. The International Monetary Fund as well as the World Bank had a strong hand in the neoliberal transformation process of Turkey’s economy giving out conditional loans that ensured Turkey’s economic opening and streamlining with the neoliberal agenda. Turkey has been strongly influenced in its entire political course by different international actors. for example. Even though cuts in public spending on welfare could hardly be promoted considering the fact that Turkey has one of the lowest figures in state expenditure on social security.4 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition . is – as a matter of fact – the European Union.3.8 Another actor. stressing non-state and community responses (Pierson 2004:6ff) see “European Union Council Decision of 8 March 2001” 2001. repositioning itself on the issue of social policy and development and paying great attention to “attacking poverty”. emphasis shall be put on the environment in which those changes have been discussed.9 Elveren states that although the EU emphasizes the importance of enhancing social security by increasing state Although Pierson has stressed that the World Bank seems to have changed its „philosophy“. It has already been stated at the beginning that the European agenda concerning member states as well as accession countries is strongest. mainly by promoting well-known third-way means. more encompassing than the IMF and the World security reform: Since the turn of the millennium. Turkey was required to “ensure the sustainability of the pension and social security system” as a part of economic criteria. more and more efforts have been made by consecutive Turkish governments to reform the Turkish social security system and to tackle the problems discussed above. Even though some of the recent reforms will be discussed briefly.

The most extensive reform packages have been passed in 2006 and 2008 under the liberalconservative government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and signify an attempt to fight against the increasing indebtedness of social insurance agencies on the one hand and move towards a more universal scheme of social security. attempts to partially privatize social security. away from what Buğra & Keyder have termed an “inegalitarian.6% live below the poverty line. while most issues of concern to those at risk of poverty and social exclusion were largly neglected. The 2006 EU report praised the new 2006 legislation on social protection. It was harshly criticized that the reforms seemed to be strongly influenced by financial concerns (with the IMF as an influential political actor) as well as by the concerns of those already formally employed. corporatist regime. There were also. (EU. the child poverty rate (below 6 years of age) is 34%. According to the same study. Furthermore. yet with 3-5% public allowances lay far under the figures of at least 20% in the European Union. the EU does not say anything different from the IMF or the WB who have pointed out the necessity of social security reform for Turkey as part of their major general policy. In an evaluation of the transformation process. but sets it alongside the lived reality of life in Turkey: 1. A universal social assistence scheme on a rights-based approach. even though not entirely new. the huge gap between average European and Turkish standards in welfare provision becomes clear once which aims at covering every citizen by providing basic health services. 2006: 54 in: Manning 2007: 492).” In 2006.29% of the population live below the hunger line. But an official draft prepared by the AKP foresees the introduction of social assistance. Buğra and Keyder (2006) as well as Grütjen (2008) praise the reforms in the course of which the state starts to contribute to social security provision. while this rate reaches almost 40% in rural areas. has not been approved yet. a General Health Insurance system was introduced. so characteristic for European countries.or in the case of Turkey: making sure that there will be no drastic increases (Elveren 2008: 221 ff). bureaucratic centralization and a new institutional structure should integrate thereto existing institutions under a single roof and gather dispersed social benefits provided by several institutions (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu). A due to the discussed labor market structure and the increasing problem of poverty very crucial point on the agenda could not yet be implemented. The percentage of the latter increased to 40% in the rural areas. which is foremost to decrease public expenditures . conditional on 16 . while 25.

Whereas the economically motivated interest and recommendations of international financial institutions as well as of the European Union are clearly 17 . It is. Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion. However we will like to enact a reform that is appropriate for our domestic dynamics” (Murat Baseskioglu. “We do not want a social security reform imposed on us or ordered from us. Whereas European convergence in terms of welfare policies is to a large extend hindered by deeply rooted institutions and the ensuing high political and economic costs of restructuring. even if Murat Baseskioglu’s quotation from 2005 might suggest otherwise. In his analysis of late developing welfare states. Turkey is highly mobile and may thus have freer choices which path to embark upon. Christopher Pierson states that they have always been strongly influenced both by the example of developed welfare states elsewhere and by the promptings of international agencies .besides the often mentioned IMF and WB. Minister of Labour & Social Security. 4. the International Labor Organization plays a strong part (Pierson 2004: 2). we are seeking a stable and sustainable social security system in accordance with the European Social Model where the experiences of IMF and World Bank can be valuable assets in the reform process. very difficult to say whether Turkey’s process of welfare-transformation has been influenced by a distinct idea of a European Social Model. 2005) This paper showed that Turkey is facing social problems which derive from the historical legacy on the one hand and from processes of neoliberal transformation in the context of globalization on the other hand.participation in productive activity and thus as well in line with the neoliberal views on social justice and its vision of an active and productive citizen. The fact that social policies were never regarded as a crucial task of the government and the ensuing low degree of institutionalization leaves the incumbent government in a unique position.

requiring the adaptation of a European social policy model or the compliance with EU conditions on social policy does not seem to play a big role I consider indirect pressure imposed by the EU on candidate countries. the open method of coordination or the deployment of incentives of “cognitive Europeanization” (such as participation in the European Social Fund.This process is also underlined by the entrance of “European” attitudes and perceptions about social issues and social problems and the best way to tackle them into the Turkish policy discourse. the European Social Model as a “soft factor” to a large part based on values. Elveren sees in his analysis no difference between the “European paradigm” and the “neoliberal paradigm” 11 10 Amongst others: Guillen & Pallier 18 . conceptualized as “cognitive Europeanization” of greater significance11.recognizable as a driving factor for reforms10. The changes in social policy in Turkey (as well as in other candidate countries) should be understood as an interaction between adaptive pressures coming from both the EU and international organizations and the capabilities and constraints of their interaction with domestic actors. The mentioned nonbinding recommendations. providing great amounts of money with the condition that it is applied in a specific framework). is much harder to retrace. Whereas a direct institutional impact. As already mentioned.

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