The Turkish Political Elite
In the momentous four decades after 1920, Turkey followed a near-classic political course. She experienced a nationalist revolution against Great Power interference. Ensuring her independence by force of arms, she moved into a benevolent dictatorship under a tutelary single-party regime, headed by a great charismatic leader. Many important reforms were quickly accomplished, setting a pattern that other developing nations have frequently tried to repeat.
After World War II, Turkey passed peacefully, voluntarily, and uniquely from a single- to a multi-party system. There followed a few favorable years of effective multi-party operations that all too soon degenerated into bitter partisan strife, a return toward single-party control, and, finally, a decisive military coup d'état. Thus, in these critical years of the First Turkish Republic, the Turks encountered many of the vital political problems confronting the developing nations today. Turkey proceeded further down the path of political development than most other emerging nations. Consequently, her course is of particular significance.
This book is an investigation of the social backgrounds of all 2,210 deputies to the Turkish national legislature, the Grand National Assembly, from the founding of that body in 1920 through 1957, with extended coverage along certain main dimensions down to 1960, the end of the First Republic. Hence, the book covers a diverse epoch in Turkey's modern history.
The investigation traces the relationships between these historic happenings and the recruitment to top-level political personnel. How “modernization” affected the composition of the political elite, the dramatic rise of the lawyer as the system was formally democratized, the spread of “localism” that attended increased competition for votes, patterns in the routes by which groups made their way to the pinnacle of power, how the body of deputies mirrored Turkish society—these and similar topics comprise the main subjects of inquiry.
The treatment is both quantitative and qualitative—a search for accurate measures and analytic meaning. Though the data and the setting are Turkish, there is a constant concern for the broader theoretical implications of the social background findings. It should also be noted that this impressive contribution to scholarship is very well written. It belongs in the library of every political scientist, sociologist, modern historian, and area specialist interested in the Near East.