Political Culture and Constitutionalism: A Comparative Approach

By Daniel P. Franklin; Michael J. Baun | Go to book overview

7

Constitutionalism and Political
Culture in Turkey

Marcie J. Patton

Democratic constitutionalism in Turkey emerged in the post-World War II era. In 1946 multiparty elections were held for the first time, and in 1950 the opposition Democrat Party swept into office in the first transfer of power since the founding of the Republic. Since the transition to competitive democratic politics began in 1946, Turkey has experienced three military coups, each of which was associated with either new constitutions or constitutional revisions. The first military intervention ( 1960-61) gave birth to the Constitution of the Second Turkish Republic ( 1961-80). The second military intervention ( 1971-73) compelled adoption of antiliberal constitutional amendments. The third military intervention ( 1980-83) gave rise to the Constitution of the Third Turkish Republic.

What is particularly compelling about the record of democratic constitutionalism in Turkey is its endurance. As Resat Kasaba has so tellingly noted, "Turkey stands out not so much for the predictability of its coups but for the inability of the military regimes to achieve staying power and failure of these governments to remake the Turkish state and society." 1 Two points are of consequence: military intervention in Turkey has not altered the commitment to democracy that has become a hallmark of the Turkish political culture since the 1950s; and in spite of constitutional changes made by various military regimes, the prevailing mode of political contestation remains multipartyism.

Multiparty electoral competition, rapid social modemization, and economic development have created a politically mobilized and pluralistic society in Turkey. Thus while formal constitutional changes have taken place during each of the periods of military intervention, such revisions must be understood in the context of these political, social, and economic transformations. In terms of political culture in Turkey, there is a general belief in the legitimacy of democ-

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