The impact of politics on Turkish society

Published 15.03.2019 22:33
Updated 16.03.2019 00:53

Turkey constitutes as one of the most political societies in the world, simply because politics truly matter in Turkey. Although Turkey has usually been compared with the countries of Western Europe and the U.S. in terms of political experience, a change of government does not make a fundamental difference in the consolidated democracies of the West.

The end of the one-party era and the transition to a multiparty system in 1950 revolutionized Turkish politics. During the one-party rule that lasted 27 years, a Jacobin political mentality had ruled the country by bearing hostility against all cultural traditions, paying no attention to individual rights and freedoms, including the freedom of thought and religion, and pledging a servile allegiance to Western modernism.

When the Democrat Party (DP) came to power, people's demands were, for the first time, channeled into the central administration and the government had realized significant social, economic and political reforms, which concluded with economic growth and expansion of individual rights and freedoms.

From the 1950s onward, the tutelary mentality of the one-party period was represented by a civil and military-bureaucratic elite, while the people were represented in the political realm by civilian political leaders of the DP and its successors.

After the end of World War I, the Western colonial empire succeeded in controlling colonized and semi-colonized countries through innovative methods. In this respect, tutelary regimes enabled Western powers to intervene in so-called independent states. For instance, whenever the tutelary mentality weakened in Turkey, military intervention or a coup d'etat was realized to restore neocolonial control.

Thanks to the centuries-old Ottoman legacy and the course of politics in modern Turkey, Turkish people have prioritized politics that have seen fundamental changes in their lives. After each election in Turkey, all experts on electoral democracy emphasize that the Turkish electorate cast their votes through a collective conscience and understanding on sophisticated political dynamics. The Turkish people constitute a prudent constituency.

In 1994, when the Homeland Party (ANAP), the True Path Party (DYP), and the Social Democratic People's Party (SHP) had a major political presence, the SHP performed poorly in local governance. In such a political context, Turkish electors trusted the local administration of major cities, such as Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakır, to the Welfare Party (RP), which performed extraordinarily well in local governance through indigenous ideas and policies.

In the first general and local elections held after the military memorandum of Feb. 28, 1997, Turkish electors showed their support for the Virtue Party (FP), the political successor of the RP, which received 16 percent and 23 percent of the votes in the general and local elections, respectively.

In a similar vein, after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) received 41 percent of the votes in the general elections of June 7, 2015, the opposition political parties could not succeed in forming a government, and the AK Party administered the transitional stage. Observing that the opposition parties were leading Turkey into political chaos, Turkish voter put the AK Party into power, which succeeded in taking 50 percent of the votes.

In the upcoming local elections, Turkish voters will certainly take all the political dynamics into consideration and then cast their votes through a prudent electoral stance.

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