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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

A Political Decision Maker in Foreign Policy Crises: Süleyman Demirel

Conflict Resolution
Foreign Policy
International Relations
Political Leadership
Aydin Sihmantepe
Yıldız Technical University
Aydin Sihmantepe
Yıldız Technical University

This paper focuses on the role of leaders in decision making in the course of Turkish foreign policy crisis management. Analyses of foreign policy have shown that leaders not only decide and guide the implementation of the foreign policy of a state, but also play a significant role in managing a foreign policy crisis as the political person in charge. Although there may be other factors that contribute to shaping the foreign policy, still, especially in times of crisis leaders are expected to make the final decision. This is because urgency and rationality come into prominence in a crisis situation and traditional decision making processes may fall short due to time limitations or used as a long term support. Decisions leaders make mainly depend on their perceptions of domestic and international constraints / structures and their cognitive capacities as well as their own belief systems. These are actually building blocks of their character or in other words their operational codes or leadership traits. This study mainly intends to introduce the leadership traits of Süleyman Demirel in times of foreign policy crises. Demirel was a prominent leader in Turkish politics over a long period of time. His political life lasted about 40 years and involved both Cold War and Post-Cold War era. Starting with opposition political party leader, he became the prime minister as the head of government, and in total he served about a decade. In 1993, he was elected to be the ninth President of Turkey and served another 7 years in this position. Naturally over his duty period he had to face a number of foreign policy crises in which he played major decision making role. The study also attempts to briefly shed light on the statesman traits of Demirel as a political leader via foreign policy crises.
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