When the Turkish Armed Forces dissolved Parliament and took over the government on May 27, 1960, the Turkish Republic suffered its first violent crisis in its 38 years of existence. Both in Turkey and abroad there was widespread concern that this spelled the end of popular government for a long while to come. Now, after a year and a half of military rule, Turkey is reverting to normal democratic processes. In the interim some attempts were made to perpetuate military government, but overwhelming public resistance nipped them in the bud. In a referendum on July 9 the Turkish people voted themselves a new constitution and on October 29 the Second Republic will be officially baptized. But neither the Turks nor the world should be deluded into complacency. The crisis is not over. True, the first hurdle has been overcome, but the Republic is burdened with many problems and the road ahead is steep and bumpy.
Already there is a serious rift in public opinion. Its significance is deeper than was seen in the referendum of July 9, when out of the 82.9 percent of the electorate which participated 38.3 percent voted against the constitution. That was a sizeable minority. However, the referendum was identified with the interim government and its deflationary policies which had resulted in a grave economic crisis. Unemployment was widespread; 50 percent of the country's industrial capacity was idle. There was a crisis in confidence because of new tax laws, vindictive discrimination against former supporters of the ousted Democrats, the decimation of the élite in the army and bureaucracy, and irresponsible haranguing against conscientious dissidents. Under these circumstances the favorable majority was considerable.
If in 1923 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had offered his constitution for popular approval, it is doubtful that he could have obtained a majority as great. But at that time the country was united behind a definite goal and it had a leader in whom it reposed complete trust. There were few, if any, effective voices among the intelligentsia aiming to divert the people from their
Loading, please wait...