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Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South 6 America, and Post-Communist Europe (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1996), p.5.
The move from democratic transition to consolidation does not always take place smoothly and sequentially.
Thomas Carothers, “The End of the Transition Paradigm,” Journal of Democracy vol. 13, no. 1 (2002), p.15;
Carsten Q. Schneider and Philippe C. Schmitter, “Liberalization, Transition and Consolidation: Measuring the Components of Democratization,” Democratization vol. 11, no. 5 (2004), pp.81-4.
Richard Gunther, Hans-Jürgen Puhle and P.Nikiforos Diamandouros, “Introduction,” in The Politics of Democratic Consolidation, pp.1-32.
Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin 8 America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p.26.
8 turkish public attitudes toward the military and ergenekon: consequences for the consolidation of democracy than democracy and consider military coups as an alternative is also detrimental to democratic consolidation. Democracy also fails to consolidate when there are significant actors in the polity that defend the tutelage of the military over elected officials and advocate that the armed forces should (continue to) have political powers.
Since support for the political role of the military can be detrimental to democratization, it is important to analyze public opinion on the military. Yet, the association between anti-democratic attitudes and trust in the military is not always clear. Trust in the armed forces and attitudes toward democracy can be separate issues in countries where the military historically had no political role. In the case of Turkey, however, the two questions are related because the military had been a political actor since the foundation of the Republic in 1923, with increasing importance after the 1960 coup. Until the last decade, the significance of the military in political decision-making had continued and, aside from direct and indirect military interventions, the armed forces also had exercised tutelary powers through several institutional mechanisms, including the National Security Council (MGK).9 Given this history of civil-military relations, it is not surprising that research on Turkey has found that there is an important association between the public’s opinion on the military and democratic attitudes. However, ironically, quantitative research has suggested that confidence in the military and support for democracy are positively related.10 Two studies that have analyzed World Values Survey results conducted in Turkey in different years have demonstrated that among those who lend support to democracy, confidence in institutions of order, including the military, is higher.11 The observation that democratic individuals in Turkey trust the military, which has staged coups and intervened against it, makes sense once it is considered that the armed forces had justified its intrusions as attempts to protect democracy and guard it against internal threats.12 Based on their findings in a survey conducted in 2006, Çarkoğlu and Toprak conclude that “…although the majority of the public does not agree with the idea that only a military regime can solve Turkey’s problems, it is clear that the public supports a unique role for the military in the context of Turkish politics.”13 This finding is paradoxical, especially when the conditions under which democratic consolidation thrives are considered. As explained above, in consolidated democracies the tutelage of the military should be undesirable for all significant groups in a society. If the link between support for democratic institutions and confidence in the military can only be explained by the tutelary functions of the armed forces, then it is clear that trust in the military is a symptom of an unconsolidated democracy.
The inconsistent association between support for democracy and confidence in the military is also a result of the way democracy is conceptualized among the public. While the majority of society tends to agree with claims such as “democracy is a good way of governing Turkey” or Ümit Cizre-Sakallıoğlu, “The Anatomy of the Turkish Military’s Political Autonomy,” Comparative Politics 9 vol. 29, no. 2 (1997): 151-166.
In this article, “confidence” and “trust” are used interchangeably. In all of the surveys mentioned in this article 10 the same Turkish word, “güven”, was used to measure confidence/trust in various institutions.
Mark Tessler and Ebru Altınoğlu, “Political Culture in Turkey: Connections among Attitudes toward Democracy, the Military and Islam,” Democratization, Vol. 11, No. 1 (2004), p.34; Zeki Sarıgil, “Deconstructing the Turkish Military’s Popularity,” Armed Forces & Society vol. 35, no. 4 (2009), pp.719.
Ergun Özbudun, Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation (Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000), p.123; Tessler and Altınoğlu, “Political Culture in Turkey,” 34; Sarıgil, “Deconstructing the Turkish Military’s Popularity,” pp.719-20.
Ali Çarkoğlu and Binnaz Toprak, Religion, Society and Politics in a Changing Turkey (Istanbul: TESEV Publications, 2007), p.83.
9 turkish public attitudes toward the military and ergenekon: consequences for the consolidation of democracy “democracy is better than any other form of government,” when it comes questions regarding political liberties, most individuals do not posses democratic values. According to the analysis of Tessler and Altınoğlu, among those who give high importance to democratic norms such as freedom of speech, confidence in the military is lower. Then it is fair to say that “true democrats” tend not to have confidence in institutions of order, while “superficial democrats,” who advocate the continuation of an unconsolidated democracy, support the military more. The “superficial democrats” probably define “democracy” as a regime where free and fair elections take place regularly, but attitudinally and culturally they do not support the liberal principles of democracy. As Tessler and Altınoğlu argue, [W]hile confidence in institutions of order tends to increases support for a pattern of governance on whose behalf the military frequently intervened…it tends to decrease support for the more fundamental norms of political culture that are necessary for democracy to mature. Democratic consolidation, in other words, depends in the final analysis on a supportive political culture, not on military intervention, and those who possess political values conducive to democracy are more likely than others to see a contradiction in relying on anti-democratic institutions to ensure democracy’s survival.14 Many analyses of Turkish civil-military relations also contend that the positive attitudes society accorded to the military had legitimized the direct and indirect interventions of the armed forces in politics.15 There are two ways in which societal support for the armed forces has contributed to a more active role for the military. First, military interventions did not result in widespread opposition among the public. Especially after the first military intervention of 1960, which ousted from power the Democratic Party government, it was seen that the armed forces returned to their barracks relatively quickly and did not have the intention to establish authoritarian regimes.
This belief was perpetuated by subsequent military interventions in 1971 and 1980, which contributed to the positive image of the military as the guardian of democracy and resulted in the quiet acceptance of the tutelary role of the military in Turkish politics.16 Indeed, the so-called postmodern coup of February 1997, during which the military pressured the coalition government of the pro-Islamic Welfare Party and the True Path Party to resign from office, was done with the cooperation of several civil society organizations and the acquiescence of the majority of society.
The second reason why positive images of the armed forces in society contributed to the military’s legitimization of its political involvement was the timidity of the politicians to oppose the military and curtail its political powers. Until the reform process that started in 1999, civilians hesitated to restrain the tutelary powers of the military not only because of their own proTessler and Altınoğlu, “Political Culture in Turkey,” p.38.
14 Nilüfer Narlı, “Civil–military Relations in Turkey,” Turkish Studies vol. 1, no. 1 (2000), pp.107-27; Gareth 15 Jenkins, Context and Circumstance: The Turkish Military and Politics (Abingdon: Routledge, 2001), pp.16-17;
Tanel Demirel, “Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri’nin Toplumsal Meşruiyeti Üzerine,” in Bir Zümre, Bir Parti: Türkiye’de Ordu, eds. Ahmet İnsel and Ali Bayramoğlu, (Istanbul: Birikim Yayınları, 2004), pp.345-381; Tanel Demirel, “Soldiers and Civilians: The Dilemma of Turkish Democracy,” Middle Eastern Studies vol. 40, no. 1 (2004), p.128; Ersel Aydınlı, Nibat Ali Özcan and Doğan Akyaz, “The Turkish Military’s March toward Europe,” Foreign Affairs vol. 85, no. 1 (2006), pp.77-80; Özkan Duman and Dimitris Tsarouhas, “‘Civilianization’ in Greece
versus ‘Demilitarization’ in Turkey: A Comparative Study of Civil-Military Relations and the Impact of the European Union,” Armed Forces and Society vol. 32, no. 3 (2006), p.411; Gareth Jenkins, “Continuity and Change:
Prospects for Civil–military Relations in Turkey,” International Affairs vol. 83, no. 2 (2007), p.355; Sarıgil, “Deconstructing the Turkish Military’s Popularity,” p.710.
Ersel Aydınlı, “A Paradigmatic Shift for the Turkish Generals and an End to the Coup Era in Turkey,” Middle 16 East Journal vol. 63, no. 4 (2009), pp.584-586.
10 turkish public attitudes toward the military and ergenekon: consequences for the consolidation of democracy military attitudes or fear of another military intervention, but also because it was believed that such reforms would be unpopular.17 Only after 1999, when the prospect of European Union (EU) membership was popular both among the public18 and within the ranks of the military,19 did the politicians start to reform civil-military relations as part of the set of legal amendments which were required by EU conditionality.20 Thus, in one sense the possibility of EU membership balanced out the prospective negative effects of introducing reforms. Nevertheless, many analysts of Turkish politics feared that given the popularity of the military, such amendments in civil-military relations would remain only on paper and military tutelage would continue.21 Such skepticism was a result of the belief that the military derived its legitimacy not only from the constitution and the legal framework that allowed it to exercise political powers, but also because of the acceptance of such a role among the public. The popularity of the military was seen as an impediment standing in the way of substantively reforming civil-military relations.
In conclusion, both quantitative analyses of public opinion and qualitative research on civil-military relations suggest that in the Turkish context, societal trust in the military is related to democratization. First, high levels of public confidence in the armed forces have the potential to legitimize the military’s direct interventions in politics and to validate its tutelage and political prerogatives over elected officials. Naturally, such outcomes run counter to the conceptualization of liberal democracy. Moreover, as long as societal support for the military continues, democratic reforms in civil-military relations could be under threat because in practice the military might continue to exert influence on political decisions. Second, in terms of democratic consolidation, analyses of surveys demonstrate that trust in the military and postures on democracy are associated. Those individuals who trust the military do not advocate democratic values. In othDemirel, “Soldiers and Civilians,” 128; Sarıgil, “Deconstructing the Turkish Military’s Popularity,” 711.
17 On the popularity of the EU since 1996, see Ali Çarkoğlu and Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, The Rising Tide of Conservatism in Turkey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp.122-9.
Several authors explain the acceptance by the military of these reforms by the fact that they were part of EU conditionality. See Ümit Cizre, “Problems of Democratic Governance of Civil–military Relations in Turkey and the European Union Enlargement Zone,” European Journal of Political Research vol. 43, no. 1 (2004), pp.107-8;
Aylin Güney and Petek Karatekelioğlu, “Turkey’s EU Candidacy and Civil–military Relations: Challenges and Prospects,” Armed Forces & Society 31, no. 3 (2005), pp.452-5; Aydınlı, Özcan and Akyaz, “The Turkish Military’s March toward Europe”; Zeki Sarıgil, “Europeanization as Institutional Change: The Case of the Turkish Military,” Mediterranean Politics vol. 12, no. 1 (2007), pp.39-57; Tuba Ünlü Bilgiç, “The Military and Europeanization Reforms in Turkey,” Middle Eastern Studies vol. 45, no. 5 (2009), pp.803-24; Tanel Demirel, 2000’li Yıllarda Asker ve Siyaset: Kontrollü Değişim ile Statüko Arasında Türk Ordusu (Ankara: Siyaset, Ekonomi ve Toplum Araştırmaları Vakfı (SETA), 2010), pp.6, 12; Şule Toktaş and Ümit Kurt, “The Turkish Military’s Autonomy, JDP Rule and the EU Reform Process in the 2000s: An Assessment of the Turkish Version of Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DECAF),” Turkish Studies vol. 11, no. 3 (2010), pp.392-3.