May 27, 2018
The history of Turkey has witnessed military interventions almost once in every decade. Before shedding light upon the 1960 intervention, it is important to look at the anatomy of civil-military relations.
In Turkey, the concept of “Internal Enemy” has been regarded as an attempt to justify the role of the military in politics.
In retrospect, the main rhetoric of the military’s “internal enemy” concept has been evident in two fields: One is in the political realm namely the political Islam or the threat of “İrtica”, the other is found in ethnic issues while it also has some political traits like the separatist Kurdish nationalism, namely the case of PKK.
The first military coup in Turkey happened on 27 May, 1960 and there were some significant developments paving the way for such an upheaval. By the mid-1950s, the autocratic policies of the DP rule caused a considerable amount of discontent among both the military and the political elites. Also, the emergence of economic problems and the series of large scale of student demonstrations paralyzed university campuses.
In addition to internal factors, the accession of Turkey to NATO is another important factor leading to 1960 coup. Turkey’s NATO membership caused discontent among military personnel whose traditional roles that they used to enjoy under CHP rule has eroded.
The first and foremost justification of the military elites in carrying out the 1960 coup was that the Menderes government had lost legitimacy. In the aftermath of the coup d’etat, a new goverment called National Unity Committee was founded. A new constitution was drafted in 1961. The new constitution was introducing a wide range of civil liberties besides social rights.
In addition, the institutions like Constitutional Court and the National Security Council were founded after the coup as well.
Analyzing the 1960 coup within the framework of Antonio Gramsci’s thinking is also enlightening.
The 1960 coup has been the first military coup in Turkey. After that intervention, in 1971 a memorandum was issued to the Demirel Government, in 1980 a fully fledged intervention broke out, in 1997 an intervention called post-modern coup took place. In 2007, an e-memorandum took place which has been characterized as an electronic memorandum with the so-called aim of protecting secular regime and on July 15, 2016 a military intervention broke out and this coup attempt showed the whole world the sincere attachment the Turkish nation has for democracy. The July 15 has been the legendary date for Turkish democracy.
For a detailed analysis of civil-military relations in Turkey, you can read my article titled “The Role of the Military in Turkish Politics: To Guard Whom and From What?”
Author : Begum Burak