Turkish Experiments in Democracy: The Democratic Party and Religion in Politics Through the Eyes of French Diplomats

Idris Yucel


The Democratic Party (DP) government, covering the period 1950-60, is seen as one of the most important stages on the road to democracy in Turkey. The Republican People s Party (CHP), which ruled the country from the proclamation of the republic in 1923 to the end of World War II, found itself in opposition for the first time after the 1950 elections, and thus Turkish democracy was given a first chance to stand on its own feet. This work aims to read the era through the eyes of French diplomats, giving an external and disinterested perspective on DP power and the Menderes government, a critical time in the history of Turkish democracy. The study is based on the thoughts and analysis about the DP s representation of democracy and attitudes towards opposition from 1956 to the coup on May 27, 1960 written down by the 69th and 70th French ambassadors to Turkey, Jean Paul Garnier and Henry Spitzmuller. The reports that Garnier and Spitzmuller sent to Paris contain harsh criticism of the Menderes government for its authoritarian and anti-democratic practices and for its religious policies. These criticisms provide us with important clues about the ways in which the DP transformed the fundamental principles and policies of the Ataturk era.


Democratic Party, Turkey, Adnan Menderes, May 27 Coup, Religion in Politics

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