Notwithstanding its commitment to westernization, the Kemalist republic made no serious steps towards political democratization during the ﬁrst decades of its existence. Turkey did not hold its ﬁrst free multiparty election until 1950, and only then in part because the country’s elite had now come to appreciate that this was what it now meant to be ‘western’ in the post-1945 world. There was little pressure from below. As we have seen (in Chapter 2), for the republic’s leadership the aspiration to ‘join’ the West derived from a range of impulses, many of which were rooted in the circumstances of the Ottoman collapse and those of the 1920s and 1930s. They included security considerations, an attachment to the idea of economic and technological progress, a sense of ‘Europeanness’ rooted in the Ottoman empire’s diplomatic involvement with, and imperial presence in, Europe, and a degree of disdain for the country’s Islamic roots and Islamic neighbours. Thus the republic’s chosen path to modernity did not include a strong
attachment to human rights or to democratization, values that since 1945 have become progressively more associated with the idea of ‘Europeanization’, but which in the 1920s and 1930s were patchy (Risse et al. 2001). Indeed, the postwar emergence of these normative values as both a European and global political issue largely passed Turkey by. Even the advent of multiparty democracy did not produce, and has not produced to this day, a full consolidation of democracy in Turkey (Ozbudun 2000). Indeed, the advent of electoral politics could be said to have hindered Turkey’s progress, as it has produced challenges to the secular, unitary and authoritarian nature of Turkish state and society, which have in turn provoked the military in particular to intensify its interference in Turkish politics. Turkey’s political, bureaucratic and military elite have for so long sought the country’s inclusion into the western family in general, and accession to the EU in particular, yet Turkey’s alignment with European political norms remains patchy and incomplete (Grigoriadis 2009). In the meantime, it has been swiftly overtaken in the quest for ‘Europeanization’ by a raft of other European states whose starting point was over forty years of communist rule.