Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation

By Gulalp, Haldun | The Middle East Journal, Autumn 2001 | Go to article overview

Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation


Gulalp, Haldun, The Middle East Journal


Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation, by Ergun Ozbudun. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000. ix + 154 pages. Abbrevs. to p. 156. Bibl. to p. 164. Index to p. 169. $49.95.

Islam and Society in Turkey, by David Shankland. Huntingdon, UK: The Eothen Press, 1999. x + 177 pages. Notes to p. 197. Append. to p. 214. Bibl. to p. 228. Index to p. 240. $55 cloth; $35 paper.

These two recent books, one by a senior scholar of Turkish politics, are welcome additions to the growing literature on Turkey's recent travails with Islamism, secularism and democracy.

Ergun Ozbudun, who has a distinguished record of publications on the Turkish state and democracy, has updated and synthesized elements of his earlier work in a book-length study that addresses, within a comparative framework, the question of sustaining democracy in an underdeveloped country that is often held up as an exception in, and a model for, the rest of the Muslim Middle East. The most important asset of this book, however, is that it takes the readers out of the strait-jacket of studying Turkey within a strictly Middle Eastern framework and opens up new horizons of global comparison. Ozbudun's comparative framework mainly draws upon the literature on democracy in Latin America and makes use of theoretical concepts generated therein.

After a brief introduction, in Chapter 2 ("Democratic Transitions, Breakdowns, and Restorations in Comparative Perspective"), which sets the comparative theoretical framework and addresses historical origins, Ozbudun characterizes Turkey as a "second-wave democracy" for having experienced the transition to a multi-party system already in the early post-Second World War period. He notes, however, that the regime, itself, engineered and controlled this transition from above. He attributes this to the inherent democratic tendencies of Kemalism and its political party, the Republican People's Party (RPP), that inevitably began to unfold as reforms were successfully completed: "the success of Kemalist reforms undermined the long-term legitimacy of the single-party system" (p. 22). But this situation contained an ambiguity. The initiation of the reform process by the RPP resulted "in turn in the transition to democracy with no institutional break with the old regime" (p. 24). It is due to this precarious balance that frequent crises of democracy lead to military interventions, which then quickly give way back to democratic transitions.

Despite its significance in setting up the comparative framework, this longest (pp. 13-48) and most important chapter ends on an analytically disappointing note. After having examined in the main body of the chapter the causes of, for example, the 1980 intervention by reference to Guillermo O'Donnel's theory of the bureaucraticauthoritarian state as an outcome of the crisis of import-substituting industrialization in Latin American countries, Ozbudun, as if completely ignoring this discussion, states in conclusion that "none of the three breakdowns of democracy in Turkey seem to be the inevitable outcome of deep-seated structural or sociological causes." He prefers a semi-psychological explanation: "In all cases the behavior of the leaders of political parties loom large as a factor leading to the breakdown" (p. 43).

The following chapters address specific aspects of the political regime in Turkey. Chapter 3 indicates that, based on comparative evidence, if constitutions are made through a participatory, consensual method, then they contribute to the consolidation of democracy. This, however, has not been the case in Turkey. Chapter 4 focuses on the structure of political parties and observes that they are oligarchically organized and tightly controlled by the leadership. Electoral volatility, party fragmentation, and ideological polarization are obstacles to democratic consolidation. Chapter 5 addresses the role of the military, "one of the most important actors in the country's politics" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.