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77 4 • Turkey between 1923 and 1983 From the Republic to Military Tutelage The Turkish Republic was founded after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of the First World War. On 24 July 1923, the Lausanne Convention ended the war for the Ankara government and marked the international recognition of the new state. The regime of the republic became authoritarian and consolidated in the 1930s, until the strengthening of the business elites in the mid-­ 1940s. Turkey made a transition to democracy in 1950 and did not revert to full authoritarianism again. Despite many years of free and fair elections, however, the regime failed to consolidate. Most significantly, the military exerted its influence in politics through tutelary powers and reserve domains, particularly on security matters. The armed forces also suspended democracy for short periods of time by staging coups in 1960 and 1980. Two other times in Turkish history, in 1971 and 1997, the military intervened in democratic practices and toppled freely elected civilian governments . In this chapter, I first trace the causes of the authoritarian regime and its consolidation between 1923 and 1946. Then I examine the reasons behind the unconsolidated democracy of 1950 and the military interventions until the last overt coup of 1980. I explain and discuss the 1997 intervention and more contemporary developments in chapter 6. The First Phase of Single-­ Party Rule: The Unconsolidated Authoritarian Regime between 1923 and 1931 In September 1923, just a few months after Lausanne, the elite group responsible for the founding of the Turkish Republic established the Republican People ’s Party (RPP), which single-­ handedly dominated Turkish politics for the subsequent two decades. The regime that the RPP established was authoritar- 78 • Between Military Rule and Democracy ian, primarily because elections for parliament were indirect and designed to ensure victories for the RPP.1 Yet, as Linz argued, the regime was not totalitarian and allowed for limited pluralism.2 The national assembly did not truly restrict the authoritarian regime, but its existence prevented the emergence of a dictator with unlimited powers and, at least, caused the rulers to try to explain and justify their policies. The leaders of the regime came from a single party: while, until his death in 1938, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was the president of the TurkishstateandtheRPP,thevicepresidentoftheparty,İsmet İnönü,acted as the prime minister (except for a brief interlude in 1924).3 Until 1931, the regime was unconsolidated. First, a significant minority of the political elite did not perceive authoritarianism as the only legitimate framework. These politicians split from the RPP and formed the Progressive Republican Party and the Free Republican Party in 1924 and 1930 respectively. The lives of both parties were brief, but their existence indicates that an elite group had pro-­ democratic preferences. Second, during this period, the power holders faced at least nine rebellions and several riots against some of their secular policies.4 These insurgences had important nationwide effects, leading the authoritarian government to augment coercion. In 1925, the government enacted the law on maintenance of order and established the eastern and Ankara independence tribunals to prosecute the insurgents. These legal measures gave the administration virtually unconstrained authority everywhere, allowing the disturbances to be put down and the press to be silenced. As table 4.1 shows, the RPP elites were relatively stronger than other social groups. Due to a process that started in the early 19th century, Turkey inherited from the Ottoman Empire a social structure characterized by the unequivocal dominance of the military and the political elite.5 Although the Ottoman leaders left the country following defeat in the First World War, thearmyandthegrassrootsoftheCommitteeofUnionandProgress(CUP), which had dominated the Ottoman parliament, were regrouped by Kemal Atatürk.6 In the new parliament that opened in Ankara on 23 April 1920, “the first group” represented mostly Atatürk’s allies. By the time new elections were held for the parliament in 1923, this group succeeded in expelling the Allied forces and in eradicating the power of the already weakened Ottoman elites, including the sultan, religious ulema leaders, and the “second group” in the Ankara parliament.7 Once the Ottoman elites lost their influence, no other social group was left to curtail the dominance of the new Turkish elite, now organized under the RPP. An aristocratic landowning class did not exist in the majority of Turkish territories, due to the administrative structure of the Ottoman Empire and the 19th-­century attempts of Mahmut II to regain central...


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