20 Kasım 2010 Cumartesi

The State, Civil Society, and New Challenges to Consolidation from Ergun Özbudun's “Contemporary Turkish Politics"

Özbudun, Ergun. “Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to democratic consolidation”, Boulder, CO, Lynne Reinner Publishers. 2000

Chapter 6: The State, Civil Society, and New Challenges to Consolidation

An active, well-organized and well-functioning civil society is accepted by political scientists as a sine qua non condition for the consolidation of democracy.

The development of civil society depends on many factors;

-socioeconomic development

-political culture

-state tradition (degree of stateness)

-prevailing class and other (ethnic, religious etc) cleavages

In Turkey and many other developing non-Western countries the degree of stateness plays a decisive role in the structuring and strength of civil society organizations.

Prof. Metin Heper argues that Turkey has a strong state tradition which creates “a virtually one to one relationship” between the degree of stateness and the pattern of interest group politics.

Turkey inherited this legacy from Ottoman Empire.

In Ottoman State,

- A strong highly centralized and autonomous state existed and occupied a central and high valued place in the political culture.

- The relationship between political and economic was the reversal of European context. In Europe, economic power (owning capital) opens the door for political power. However, in Ottomans due to status oriented understanding instead of market oriented approach, political power led to economic power.

- No strong bourgeois or merchant class evolved in Ottoman State.

Ethnic division of labor in Ottomans: Non-Muslims, having no political influence, had economic power.

-There was also no feudal aristocracy in Ottomans. Tımar system allowed the state to own lands and raise soldiers. The sipahi (fief holders) were not a land-based aristocracy but rather a military service gentry paid by the state. In the 18th century local notables’ (ayan) power increased but this did not change the structure.

- The basic social and political cleavage was between ruling askeri (military) and ruled (reaya, tebaa) subject.

-Nature of Islam also played an important role. For all theoretical supremacy of Sharia, the religious class has no corporate identity but depends on the state unlike the Church in the European context. Church can be considered as the foremost of civil society organizations in the rise of pluralism in Europe.

Folk sayings: Devlet baba, Allah devlete millete zeval vermesin, Devlet-i Aliye, Hikmet-i Hükümet, Devletin ali menfaatleri, kutsal Türk devleti (in the 1982 const.)

The term “interest group” has a pejorative meaning. Robert Bianchi argues “much of the political elite have continued to share a lingering fear that unless partitive interests are repressed, closely regulated, or prudently harmonized, divisions along such lines as class, religion, and region will threaten both the unity of the nation and the authority of the state”. (p. 129)

Number of civil societal organizations in different years;

1938: 205

(Single-party rule)

1946: 820

(Transformation to multi-party politics)

1950: 2000

(DP rule)

1960: 17000

(Effect of 1961 constitution)

1970: 42000

Three groups in Turkish associational life;

1-) Dernekler (Private Associations) --> Pluralist model

2-) Public Professional Organizations (Kamu Kurumu niteliğindeki meslek kuruluşları) --> Corporatist model

3-) Trade unions --> closer to pluralist model

Pluralist model: Multiple, voluntary, competitive, non-hierarchically ordered and self-determined associations try to shape government’s decisions and protect their interests. (e.g. USA)

Corporatist model: Singular, compulsory, non-competitive, hierarchical, state-sponsored organizations established by the state and work under tight state control. (e.g. fascist Italy, Mexico)

TÜSİAD- MÜSİAD two important interest groups of Turkish bourgeoisie.

Starting from 24 January 1980, especially in Turgut Özal period (1983-89),

-Public investments are directed towards infrastructural activities.

-Executive branch gained power.


-Export-oriented economy instead of import substitution industrialization.

-Opening doors to foreign investment, low tariffs.

-Effective bureaucracy (the ability to get the things done in short time)


Ersin Kalaycıoğlu claims that Turkish private sector has always been nurtured by the state and obtained its power from the state not as an independent class having economic power.

Heper further asserts that civil societal actors are forced to work within the framework of a strong state tradition. He calls this as “lingering monism”.

Weak links between political parties and civil society organizations

The role of 1982 constitution

28 February process – increasing role of civil society organizations

New Challenges to Turkish democratic consolidation:

-Kurdish nationalism

-Political Islam

The role of globalization in the rise of ultra-nationalist and religious extremist thoughts;

In 1995 elections,

1/3 of total votes went to;




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