Politics in Post-Revolutionary Turkey, 1908-1913

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This book is about domestic politics following the Revolution of 1908 in Turkey. Although seemingly straightforward in its telling of events from the opening of the Parliament in alte 1908 to the re-capture of constitutional government in early 1913, this book is built upon a premise that is fundamentally different from previous studies. Whereas previous studies deal with the period as if conditions were normalised immediately after the Revolution of 1908, this book takes the view that the period under scrutiny is a relentless struggle over the political future of Turkey.
The Revolution of 1908 was no mere "restoration" of the Constitution of 1876. It tried to bring about a fundamental change in the political structure of Turkey. In more senses than one, the Revolution brought about the end of the Ottoman Empire. If the Ottoman Empire stood for everything that reminded one of absolutism and the practices associated with it, "Young Turkey" represented a radical break with that past. A modern, centralised state actively engaged in both promoting capitalist relations of production in the economy, and upholding a parliamentary form of government in politics replaced the absolutist state symbolised in the autocratic personality of Abdülhamid II.
The political history of the period from late 1908 to early 1913 reflects the constant struggle between the proponents of the new regime working through, and depending upon, the newly created parliament, and the monarchist forces who aimed at restoring the ancien régime at all costs. One cannot but observe that this is no ordinary parliamentary struggle of two opposing political groups to capture political power through mutually agreed upon principles of liberal democratic politics.
Although a superficial look at parliamentary debates and press reports might give that impression, a closer scrutiny of the content of those debates and the reason for, as well as the nature of, the arguments and disagreements show it with absolute clarity that here was a case of a continuous struggle between the old, absolutist mentality and the new, liberal worldview.

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Meet the Author

Aykut Kansu, Ph.D. (1990) in Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, teaches at the Department of History, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Specializing on the twentieth-century political and economic history of Turkey, he has published The Revolution of 1908 in Turkey (Brill, 1997).
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