11:47am, 17th July, 2016


2 mins

Turkey faced a democratic crisis on Friday afternoon when a faction of Turkish military attempted a coup to topple the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. But this is not the first time this has happened. Read on to find out.

The irony is very strong in this one. In the name of protecting democracy, the coup leaders mobilised their units to bring down the democratically elected Government of Erdogan. Over and top of this, they made the statement “Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedom,” Yes! Freedom and Human Rights!

But why would a military want to bring democracy?

Let’s delve into Turkish history a bit. The present Turkish Republic was founded by a military officer Mustafa Kemal Pasha or Ataturk in 1923. Democratic nationalism and hard-line secularism were the principles on which he established the Government. This ideology of Kemal Pasha is known as Kemalism.

The Turkish military are the watchdogs of Kemalism. They have interrupted the functioning of Government from time to time. Since 1960, the Turkish military has overthrown four Governments. They claimed to protect Turkey from chaos and Islamic influence.  However, every time after the Government was overthrown; the military themselves reinstated a new democratically elected Government.


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The faction of military that attempted the coup sees Erdogan as a threat to secularism and democracy which is not entirely false according to reports. Erdogan belongs to a moderate Islamist party called AKP. He has curtailed freedom of press in Turkey and has reformed schools on Islamic lines. He has also pushed for constitutional amendments that would lead to a concentration of power in the hands of President.

The silence of military on these matters till now, made people believe that Erdogan has forced them to submission. But this changes things, a lot.

Turkey is a member of EU, a strong alliance of US and a border state of Syria where Islamic extremism is tearing it apart. A military coup, even a failed one, has many political implications. People have openly come out to the streets to protect their democratically elected Government. It’s also assured that the military has splits within it. Therefore the failure of coup has in fact strengthened Erdogan’s power.

Erdogan has now successfully projected himself as the defender of civilian government. This could help him push his constitutional amendments in the Parliament easily granting him unequalled powers. If at all he succeeds in this, then the coup leaders have failed miserably at two ends. They have not only failed in seizing Government from Erdogan but also might’ve given him an edge he needed to spell the doom of Kemalism.

What happens further in Turkey is of great importance not only to Middle Eastern politics but also to International politics.

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