1960 Turkish coup d'état
The 1960 Turkish Coup d'état was the first ever attack on the Turkish democracy, which took place on May 27th 1960. The coup which took place at a time of political and economic unrest, was led by a group of young Turkish military officers who were acting outside the interest of the government. The coup was led by the military officer Colonel Alparslan Türkes who was a member of the junta (National Unity Committee) and had been one of the first officers trained by the US in 1948 to from a stay-behind counter-guerrilla. The coup was carried out against the ruling Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. Eventually, on May 27th the military overcame the government and the prime minister and president were tried for reason and ultimately resulted in the execution of Menderes.
1960 Turkish coup d'état[change | change source]
Background[change | change source]
Kemal Mustafa, better known as Ataturk, was president of Turkey from the founding of his political party that ruled under a single party system, the Republican People's Party (RPP), in 1923 until his death in 1938. Still, after Ataturk’s death, the RPP kept its hold over the government. The RPP continued in power but did not actually fulfill its promises, therefore Turkish people became discontent with Ataturk’s authoritarian regime and were ready to embrace political change. In that context the elections of 1950 played a key role in Turkey's democracy. The political tide changed when the Democratic Party (DP) took the lead not only in the elections but also in popular acceptance. This popular acceptance towards the DP came from their representation including rural citizens in comparison to the elite that governed through the RPP's government. The 1950 elections were also the first free elections that had been held in Turkey, and thus it would bring a democratically chosen government into power after years of Ataturk's and the RPP's regime in office. The DP won the elections, placing Adnan Menderes as Prime Minister.
Coup d'etat[change | change source]
Parties involved[change | change source]
The actors who were involved in the coup d’etat in opposition to the Democratic Party, including young and senior officials and civilian educated elite.
The Coup[change | change source]
The coup formally start on May 27, 1960 with the plan to take control of the government after people grew discontent with the Democratic Party at their repressive tactics, bad management of the economy and suppression to any opposition parties. In summary, the DP was becoming its predecessor by exerting an authoritarian rule claiming to be a new type of democracy that will safeguard national security. Not only were civilians angry towards the government but many officers who served in the military grew grievances against the government after their pay decreased and their roll diminished, making the military's importance sink when the military has been seen as an organized and well-managed institution within the country.
Some of the discontent came after 1954 and the government's response to the economic situation, inflation was raising and there was an economic deficit. Instead of responding to the economic crisis the DP faced this situation with repression. For that reason their popularity started declining, which could be seen in the 1957 elections. As the DP witnessed their popularity dwindle, they began oppressing the opposition, mainly the RPP who had once again become their most influential opponent.
All of these factors created tensions among various social groups which only fed into the plan to overthrow the DP from power and regain control themselves. Such plan was mainly organized by officials who goal was to save Turkey's democracy that had been threatened by the DP, hence their strategy was to hold free elections and meanwhile the military would be the one in charge until the elections could be held. The military successfully organized themselves as the National Unity Committee, led by General Cemal Gürsel, and overthrew the DP. This transition was carried out smoothly because there was no real opposition against the interim military regime from the population thanks to the anger harvested towards the government and the respect that people had towards the military.
Aims[change | change source]
The aims of the coup was to remove the politicians and people in power so the system would stop being corrupt. What they wanted to do was reform the political structure, based on Kemalism, that was being threatened by the DP. The goal was to overtake control of the government to hold elections.
Government response[change | change source]
Menderes was arrested and charged for violating the constitution. Following the arrest, Menderes and other leaders of the DP were put on trial (formally known as the Yassiada Trials) by a military court on the island of Yassiada (Democracy and Freedom Island) and the politicians were charged with high treason, misuse of public funds and abrogation of the constitution. Eventnually, following the trials Menderes was sentenced to death. Despite the pleas of forgiveness by many individuals and world leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II, Menderes was executed by the junta at the gallows on the island of Imrali on the 17th September 1961.
External Factors[change | change source]
Intervention from foreign countries[change | change source]
The United States[change | change source]
The 1960 coup d'état also took place at a time of sociopolitical turmoil and economic hardship, in particular US aid from the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan was running out. Therefore, at the time of this domestic unrest Menderes was planning a trip to Moscow in the hopes of getting alternative credit. Many researches have concluded that the 1960 military coup was determined by Turkey's economic and political dependence on the United States and therefore the relations between these two states saw a considerable shift.
Consequences[change | change source]
The main objective of the coup was to restore the democracy that had been threatened by the DP. Such objectives were achieved not only by the coup but also by the creation of new democratic tools. On 9th July 1961, a constitutional referendum was held and a new constitution was drawn up to replace the one from 1924. It was approved by 61.7% of voters, with a turnout of 81%. The military in charge saw fit to create a new constitution to tackle issues that gave way to the coup, which are power abuse and oppression of opposition. This constitution passed through a constituency assembly and then a popular referendum, after its approval the elections were scheduled on October 25th, 1961.
The elections took place in a timely manner. As the election's results were announced the National Unity committee stepped down as the results now appointed the Republican People's Party to be in office, with 36.7% of the votes. The elections also saw new parties being introduced such as the Justice Party, Republican National Peasants Party, and the New Turkey Party.
- Varol, Ozan (2017-08-24). "The Democratic Coup d'État". Oxford Scholarship Online. doi:10.1093/oso/9780190626013.001.0001.
- Anderson, Betty (2016). A History of the Modern Middle East: Rulers, Rebels, and Rogues. Standford University Press. pp. 199–239.
- Harris, George S. (1970). "The Causes of the 1960 Revolution in Turkey". Middle East Journal. 24 (4): 438–454. ISSN 0026-3141.
- Eryilmaz, O. (2014). Turkey in the Triangle of the 1950-1960 Era, the 1960 Military Coup, and the 1961 Constitution. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA608103.pdf
- Sarisu, Ayhan (2017). "May 27th 1960. Military Coup D'état in Turkey" (PDF). Academia.
- "Turkey | Location, Geography, People, Economy, Culture, & History | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
- Hale, William (2013-09-30). Turkish Politics and the Military. London: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315002231. ISBN 978-1-315-00223-1.
- KARAKOÇ, Ercan; Olkun, Mithat (2019-08-01). "Feridun Cemal Erkin As One of the Important Figures of Turkish Foreign Affairs and His Position in the Turkish Diplomacy". Journal of International Scientific Researches: 78–89. doi:10.21733/ibad.570809. ISSN 2536-4642.
- Koelle, Peter Brampton (2012). "The Rehabilitation of Adnan Menderes". Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. 35 (2): 65–77. doi:10.1353/jsa.2012.0002. ISSN 2766-0176.
- Gunn, Christopher (2015). "The 1960 Coup in Turkey: A U.S. Intelligence Failure or a Successful Intervention?". Journal of Cold War Studies. 17 (2): 103–139. doi:10.1162/jcws_a_00550. ISSN 1520-3972.