The Making of Modern Turkey

The Making of Modern Turkey

The Making of Modern Turkey

The Making of Modern Turkey

Synopsis

Turkey is the first modern secular state in a predominantly Islamic Middle East. In this major textbook, Feroz Ahmad provides a thorough examination of the political, social and economic processes which led to the formation of a new Turkey.

After a chapter on "the Ottoman Legacy", the book covers the period since the revolution of 1908 and the development of the new Turkey. Successive chapters chart the progress through the single-party regime set up by Ataturk (1923-1945), the multi-party period (1945-1960) and the three military interventions of 1960, 1971 and 1980. The book ends in 1989 with the election of Turgat Ozal as president. In contrast to most current analyses of modern Turkey, the author emphasises the socio-economic changes rather than continuities as the motor of politics.

Excerpt

Anyone reading about the political situation of Turkey in the early 1990s, or indeed during the past quarter century, is likely to be struck by the role played by the armed forces. The generals ousted the civilian government of Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel on 12 September 1980, curbed all political activity, provided the country with a new constitution and a new political framework before permitting a tightly controlled general election in November 1983. As a result, power was restored to a civilian prime minister, Turgut Özal, whose party had won the election, and Turkey seemed to be back on the path to democracy. However, presidential powers, as defined by the 1982 constitution and exercised by President Kenan Evren, the general who had led the 1980 coup, enabled the armed forces to continue to supervise political activity. Moreover, martial law was applied long after civilian rule was restored and was removed only gradually, facilitating military control.

The military takeover of 1980 led many observers—foreign and Turkish—to emphasise the role played by the army in Turkey’s politics and history. It was noted that the army had intervened in March 1971, and earlier in May 1960. There seemed to be a neat pattern of intervention every ten years, with the soldiers reluctantly soiling their hands in order to clean up the mess made by corrupt and incompetent politicians. In 1960, the army ousted the Democrat Party government of Adnan Menderes as he ran the country with total disregard for the constitution, relying on his overwhelming majority in parliament to justify his actions. In March 1971, the military High Command forced the resignation of Süleyman Demirel, and did so again a decade later, in September 1980. The first intervention was justified on the grounds of defending the constitution. On the other two occasions, the governments were described as weak and inefficient, the source of anarchy and

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