Turkey Table of Contents
Several small parties existed in early 1995. Two post-1991 splinters from parliamentary parties included Unity and Peace (Birlik ve Baris), whose members left the Welfare Party in 1992, and the Freedom and Labor Party (OZEP), formed from a breakaway faction of the SHP in 1992. The Nationalist Labor Party (Milliyetçi Çalisma Partisi--MÇP), founded in 1985 by the controversial nationalist of the 1970s, Alparslan Türkes, espoused pan-Turkism in foreign policy and cooperated with the Welfare Party in domestic politics. Deniz Baykel, a politician disillusioned by the partisan sniping between the SHP and the True Path Party, announced the reactivation of the CHP in September 1992 and called on its former members to rejoin. Thirteen SHP deputies joined the new CHP, providing it with an immediate base in the National Assembly. The former Democrat Party, banned following the 1960 coup, also was reactivated in 1992. It consisted of politicians who supported the economic policies of the Motherland Party and the True Path Party but distrusted both Özal and Demirel.
In addition to the legal parties, several illegal political organizations operated clandestinely in Turkey in 1995. These parties were considered illegal either because they never had registered as required by law or because they had been proscribed by judicial authorities. Many of these parties advocated armed struggle, although some were nonviolent. The illegal parties fell into three categories, which reflected the intertwined security and ideological concerns of the Turkish military since 1980: separatist parties, a term used to describe all Kurdish groups; communist parties, a term used to describe all organizations espousing various versions of Marxism; and irtica (religious reaction) parties, a term used to describe all groups pushing for the establishment of an Islamic government in Turkey. The most important of the illegal parties was the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkere Kurdistan--PKK), which in 1984 had initiated a steadily escalating armed struggle against the government. By mid-1994 at least 12,000 persons were estimated to have been killed in southeastern Turkey, where the government maintained at least 160,000 troops in combat readiness against as many as 15,000 guerrillas. With the exception of the Revolutionary Left Party (Devrimçi Sol--Dev Sol), the illegal communist and Islamic groups were not well organized; they functioned in small cells that carried out mainly isolated but sensational acts of terrorism in various cities. One of the more notorious actions was the January 1993 car bomb assassination of the nationally prominent journalist Ugur Memçu, for which an extreme Islamist group claimed responsibility (see Internal Security Concerns, ch. 5).
The decades following World War II saw a proliferation of interest groups that evolved into increasingly active and politically conscious associations. The growth of these groups was part of a general trend toward a more politicized and pluralistic society. This trend resulted primarily from factors such as the advent of multiparty politics, economic development and the accompanying expansion of opportunity, and improvements in communications (see Mass Media, this ch.). Increasing urbanization, rising literacy rates, rapid industrial expansion, and the exposure of hundreds of thousands of Turkish guest workers--most from villages and lower-class urban areas--to new ideas and customs in Western Europe also contributed to the politicization of the populace. As a consequence, a growing number of voluntary associations sprang up to promote specific interests, either on their own, through representatives in parliament, or through the cabinet and senior bureaucrats. These associations enabled various social groups to exercise a degree of influence over political matters. The activities of groups such as labor unions, business associations, student organizations, a journalists' association, and religious and cultural associations promoted public awareness of important issues and contributed to a relatively strong civil society.
The autonomy of civic groups vis-à-vis the state has been a persistent political problem since 1960. During periods of military rule and martial law, the independence of such groups often was circumscribed (see Crisis in Turkish Democracy, ch. 1). Following the military takeover in September 1980, for example, strict limits were placed on the political activities of civic associations; some of these restrictions remained in force in early 1995. For example, the 1982 constitution, like that of 1961, affirms the right of individuals to form associations but also stipulates that the exercise of this right must not violate the "indivisible integrity of the state." Furthermore, associations are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of language, race, or religion, or from trying to promote one social class or group over others. Civic associations also are forbidden to pursue political aims, engage in political activities, receive support from or give support to political parties, or take joint action with labor unions or professional organizations. In addition, legislation enacted in 1983 prohibits teachers, high school students, civil servants, and soldiers from forming associations, and bans officials of professional organizations from participating actively in politics.
Data as of January 1995
Turkey Table of Contents