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132 6 • More of the Same? Turkey under Coalition Governments and One-­ Party Dominance Turkish democracy did not consolidate in the aftermath of the 1980 military coup. On the contrary, the military increased its political powers and prerogatives . Another military intervention in 1997, precipitated by elite conflict during the years of coalition governments, showed the continuing preeminence of the military and precarious support for democracy in Turkish politics.1 In 2001, Turkey experienced the worst financial debacle in its history . Similar to events in Greece in the aftermath of such a crisis, the Turkish party system fundamentally changed, and almost all of the old parties of the 1980s and 1990s disappeared from the political scene. In the 2002 elections, a new formation, the Justice and Development Party (JDP), established a single-­ party government for the first time since the early 1980s. The party renewed its mandate in the following elections, partially thanks to the economic stability that accompanied its rule. Contrary to events in Greece, where fragmentation increased, the number of parties that entered the parliament in Turkey was reduced, and the era of unstable coalition governments that prevailed there in the 1990s came to an end with the economic crisis. The military also lost its power and dominance in the political system. Yet government stability and taming the military have not meant democratic consolidation. The victories of the JDP marked increasing polarization among the elite, a major protest against the government, and a shift toward authoritarianism. The Rise of the Welfare Party and the Coup of 1997 The 1983 elections were won by the newly founded Motherland Party (MP) of Turgut Özal. The MP governments ruled the country until 1991, and until Turkey under Coalition Governments and One-Party Dominance • 133 his election to the presidency in 1989, Özal served as the prime minister. A referendum in 1987 recognized the right of return to politics for politicians who had been banned from participating in elections. Süleyman Demirel became the leader of the mainstream right-­wing True Path Party (TPP), Bülent Ecevit took the reins at the center-­ left Democratic Left Party (DLP), Necmettin Erbakan assumed the chairmanship of the religious Welfare Party (WP), and Alpaslan Türkeş headed the party that eventually changed its name to Nationalist Action Party (NAP). The first free and fair elections were conducted after the lifting of the restriction remaining from the 1980 coup. But in a few years, the increasing influence of the anti-­ regime WP became a problem, leading to the 1997 coup (table 6.1 summarizes the causes of the intervention). The dominance of the military in politics was also a predicament . The decisions military commanders made in the National Security Council were not mere recommendations anymore; cabinets were forced to accept them by the lingering implicit threat of a coup. The NSC bureaucracy, made up mostly of military officers, followed up on how civilian institutions carried out the NSC resolutions. This period in Turkey also witnessed the rise of Kurdish separatist activities. The military actively fought against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which formed a guerrilla-­ type organization in the southeast regions. The armed forces had almost total autonomy from civilians regarding the conduct of this warfare. The MP governments adopted the neoliberal economic program of the coup years. The ISI strategy was abandoned for an export-­ oriented policy. The growth in the economy was 4.8 percent in 1980–­ 89, 5.5 percent in 1990–­ 93, and 7.7 percent in 1995–­ 97.2 Yet economic growth was coupled with negative developments. While the current account imbalance averaged 5.2 percent of GNP between 1980 and 1997, the foreign debt averaged 40 percent of GNP between 1983 and 1997.3 In the crisis year of 1994, inflation rose to 150 percent, and income inequality worsened, with the Gini coefficient reaching as high as 0.50.4 Neoliberal policies, moreover, did not mean a decline in the influence of the state. While the bureaucracy (oftentimes in competition with governments) had distributed incentives to businesses in the past, political parties engaged in rent-­ seeking behavior more in the post-­1980 era. Companies that already had a high market share and close contacts with the current mainstream governing parties earned rewards in the form of export subsidies and lucrative deals in the privatization of public enterprises. Influential people were offered high interest rates for savings, provided both by the state institutions and the burgeoning banking sector. Scandals involving tax evasion...


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