Sunday, September 5, 2010

Turkish Political Life After 1923

1. 1923–1946: Single-party period

The history of Modern Turkey begins with the foundation of the republic on October 29, 1923. Mustafa Kemal ATATURK was the first president of the Republic of Turkey. The second constitution was ratified by the Grand National Assembly on April 20, 1924. In first ten years of the republic, there were a lot of reforms led by ATATURK in the process of secular westernization, such as unification of education; the discontinuation of religious and other titles; the closure of Islamic courts and the replacement of Islamic canon law with a secular civil code modeled after Switzerland's and a penal code modeled after the Italian Penal Code; recognition of the equality between the sexes and the granting of full political rights to women on 5 December 1934; the language reform initiated by the newly founded Turkish Language Association; replacement of the Ottoman Turkish alphabet with the new Turkish alphabet derived from the Latin alphabet; the dress law (the wearing of a fez, is outlawed); the law on family names; and many others.

The first party of the Republic of Turkey is People`s Party of Women or in Turkish Kadinlar Halk Firkasi. It is founded by Nezihe Muhiddin in July 1923.

The actual passage to multi-party period was first attempted with the Liberal Republican Party by Ali Fethi Okyar. The Liberal Republican Party was dissolved on 17 November 1930 and no further attempt for a multi-party democracy was made until 1945.

After ATATURK`s death, Ismet Inonu became the Second President of the Republic of Turkey. He was the one of the respected figures of the Turkish Independence War but because of internal fights between power groups and external events like the World War which caused a lack of goods in the country. He lost some of his popularity and support.

During the WWII, Turkey signed a peace treaty with Germany and officially remained neutral until near the end of war. In February 1945, Turkey declared war on Germany and Japan, although this was largely symbolic.

In 1946, Inonu`s government organized multi-party elections, which were won by his party. He remained as the president of the country until 1950.

2. 1946–present: Multi-party period

On May 27, 1960, General Cemal Gürsel led a military coup d'état removing President Celal Bayar and Prime Minister Menderes, the second of whom was executed. The system returned to civilian control in October 1961. The political system that emerged in the wake of the 1960 coup was a fractured one, producing a series of unstable government coalitions in parliament alternating between the Justice Party of Süleyman Demirel on the right and the Republican People's Party of İsmet İnönü and Bülent Ecevit on the left.
The army gave a memorandum warning the civilian government in 1971, leading to another coup which resulted in the fall of the Demirel government and the establishment of interim governments.

In 1974, under Prime Minister Ecevit in coalition with the religious National Salvation Party, Turkey carried out an invasion of Cyprus.

The government of Adnan Menderes was very popular at first, relaxing the restrictions on Islam and presiding over a booming economy. In the later half of the decade, however, the economy began to fail and the government introduced censorship laws limiting dissent. The government became plagued by high inflation and a massive debt.

On May 27, 1960, General Cemal Gürsel led a military coup d'état removing President Celal Bayar and Prime Minister Menderes, the second of whom was executed. The system returned to civilian control in October 1961. The political system that emerged in the wake of the 1960 coup was a fractured one, producing a series of unstable government coalitions in parliament alternating between the Justice Party of Süleyman Demirel on the right and the Republican People's Party of İsmet İnönü and Bülent Ecevit on the left.
The army gave a memorandum warning the civilian government in 1971, leading to another coup which resulted in the fall of the Demirel government and the establishment of interim governments.

In 1974, under Prime Minister Ecevit in coalition with the religious National Salvation Party, Turkey carried out an invasion of Cyprus.

The governments of National Front, a series of coalitions between rightist parties, followed as Ecevit was not able to remain in office despite ranking first in the elections. The fractured political scene and poor economy led to mounting violence between ultranationalists and communists in the streets of Turkey's cities.

A military coup d'état, headed by General Kenan Evren, took place in 1980. Martial law was extended from 20 to all then existing 67 provinces of Turkey.[3] Within two years, the military returned the government to civilian hands, although retaining close control of the political scene. The political system came under one-party governance under Turgut Özal's Motherland Party (ANAP), which combined a globally oriented economic program with conservative social values. Under Özal, the economy boomed, converting towns like Gaziantep from small provincial capitals into mid-sized economic boomtowns. Military rule began to be phased out at the end of 1983.[4] In particular in provinces in the south-east of Turkey it was replaced by a state of emergency. In 1985 the government established village guards, local paramilitary militias, to struggle against the conflict with the PKK, a separatist Kurdish terrorist group.

Starting in July 1987, the South-East was submitted to state of emergency legislation, a measure which lasted until November 2002. With the turn of the 1990s, political instability returned. The 1995 elections brought a short-lived coalition between Yılmaz's ANAP and the True Path Party, now with Tansu Çiller at the helm.

In 1997, the military, citing his government's support for religious policies deemed dangerous to Turkey's secular nature, sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan requesting that he resign, which he did. This was named a postmodern coup. Shortly thereafter, the Welfare Party (RP) was banned and re-born as the Virtue Party (FP). A new government was formed by ANAP and Ecevit's Democratic Left Party (DSP) supported from the outside by the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP), led by Deniz Baykal. The DSP won big in the 1999 elections. Second place went to the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). These two parties, alongside Yılmaz's ANAP formed a government. The government was somewhat effective, if not harmonious, bringing about much-needed economic reform, instituting human rights legislation, and bringing Turkey ever closer to the European Union.

A series of economic shocks led to new elections in 2002, bringing into power the conservative Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The political reforms of AK Party has ensured the beginning of the negotiations with the European Union. AK Party again won the 2007 elections, which followed the controversial August 2007 presidential election, during which AK Party member Abdullah Gül was elected President at the third round. Recent developments in Iraq (explained under positions on terrorism and security), secular and religious concerns, the intervention of the military in political issues, relations with the EU, the United States, and the Muslim world were the main issues. The outcome of this election, which brought the Turkish and Kurdish ethnic/nationalist parties (MHP and DTP) into the parliament, will affect Turkey's bid for the European Union membership, as Turkish perceptions of the current process (or lack thereof) affected the results and will continue to affect policy making in coming years.

Alleged members of a clandestine group called Ergenekon were detained in 2008 as part of a long and complex trial. Members are accused of terrorism and plotting to overthrow the civilian government.

On 22 February 2010 more than 40 officers arrested and then were formally charged with attempting to overthrow the government with respect to so-called "Sledgehammer" plot. They include four admirals, a general and two colonels, some of them retired, including former commanders of the Turkish navy and air force (three days later, the former commanders of the navy and air force were released).
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