Politics in Post-Revolutionary Turkey, 1908-1913

Politics in Post-Revolutionary Turkey, 1908-1913

Politics in Post-Revolutionary Turkey, 1908-1913

Politics in Post-Revolutionary Turkey, 1908-1913

Synopsis

This book is about domestic politics following the Revolution of 1908 in Turkey. Although seemingly straightforward in its telling of events from the opening of the Parliament in alte 1908 to the re-capture of constitutional government in early 1913, this book is built upon a premise that is fundamentally different from previous studies. Whereas previous studies deal with the period as if conditions were normalisedimmediately after the Revolution of 1908, this book takes the view that the period under scrutiny is a relentless struggle over the politicalfuture of Turkey. The Revolution of 1908 was no mere restoration" of the Constitution of 1876. It tried to bring about a fundamental change in the political structure of Turkey. In more senses than one, the Revolution brought about the end of the Ottoman Empire. If the Ottoman Empire stood for everything that reminded one of absolutism and the practices associated with it, "Young Turkey" represented a radical break with that past. A modern, centralised state actively engaged in both promoting capitalist relations of production in the economy, and upholding a parliamentary form of government in politics replaced the absolutist state symbolised in the autocratic personality of Abdülhamid II. The political history of the period from late 1908 to early 1913 reflects the constant struggle between the proponents of the new regime working through, and depending upon, the newly created parliament, and the monarchist forces who aimed at restoring the ancien régime at all costs. One cannot but observe that this is no ordinary parliamentary struggle of two opposing political groups to capture political power through mutually agreed upon principles of liberal democratic politics. Although a superficial look at parliamentary debates and press reports might give that impression, a closer scrutiny of the content of those debates and the reason for, as well as the nature of, the arguments and disagreements show it with absolute clarity that here was a case of a continuous struggle between the old, absolutist mentality and the new, liberal worldview."

Excerpt

This book is about domestic politics following the Revolution of 1908 in Turkey. To be more precise, it is about parliamentary politics and extra-parliamentary opposition to that ideal. Parliamentary politics was something completely new to the Turkish scene. Never before in Turkish history Turkey was ruled with a government responsible and answerable to a parliament which was composed of members elected through a competitive mechanism—i.e., general elections. Therefore, it is appropriate that the book starts with the opening of the Parliament in December of 1908, and ends with the restitution of constitutional rule in early 1913.

Although seemingly straightforward in its telling of events from the opening of the Parliament to the re-capture of constitutional government in early 1913, this book is built upon a premise that is fundamentally different from previous studies—which are relatively few in number. Whereas previous studies—especially Feroz Ahmad's The Young Turks: the Committee of Union and Progress in Turkish Politics, 19081914 and Sina Akşin's Jön Türkler ve İttihat ve Terakki—deal with the period as if conditions were normalised immediately after the Revolution of 1908 I take the view that the period un-

There are only two scholarly books that exclusively deal with this period of
Turkish political history. Feroz Ahmad's The Young Turks: the Committee of
Union and Progress in Turkish Polities, 1908–1914
is a ground breaking book
which retains its value even thirty years after its appearance. the second book, Sina
Akşin's Jön Türkler ve İttihat ve Terakki, traverses basically the same path al
though it covers both the pre-revolutionary years between 1889 and 1908, and the
Ceriod between 1913 and 1918. in addition to these works, there are two recent
ooks that deal with the same period but with a specific interest in the rela
tionship between the Turks and the Arabs during the post-revolutionary decade
(Sabine Prätor, Der arabische Faktor in der jungtürkischen Politik: Eine Studie
zum osmanischen Parlament der ii. Konstitution, 1908–1918,
and Hasan Kayali,
Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman
Empire, 1908–1918).

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