TURKEY'S POLITICAL SYSTEM faced four distinct but intertwined challenges in early 1995: accommodating the disaffected Kurdish ethnic minority; reconciling the growing differences, expressed with increasing stridency, between the secular elite and groups using traditional Islamic symbols to manifest their opposition to the political status quo; establishing firm civilian control over the military, which had a long history of intervening in the political process; and strengthening weak democratic practices and institutions. Turkey displays the trappings of a Western-style democratic government: a legislature, whose deputies are elected by secret ballot, multiple and competitive political parties, and relatively free news media. However, Turkey also is a country where, on three occasions since 1960, military coups have overthrown elected civilian governments. The most recent military government, which seized power in September 1980, governed for three years. During the period of military rule, strict limits were imposed on personal and political rights and liberties. Political parties were banned, and prominent civilian politicians were barred from participating in political activity for up to ten years. The military justified its intervention on the premise that it was returning the country to the principles of Kemal Ataturk. The supervised restoration of civilian rule began in November 1983 with National Assembly elections for which every candidate needed to obtain military approval. A civilian government with Turgut Ozal as prime minister was formed after Ozal's Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisan--ANAP) won a majority of the seats in the new assembly. Ozal worked with the president, General Kenan Evren, a leader of the 1980 coup, to reestablish the primacy of civilian authority. By November 1987, martial law decrees had been repealed in most of Turkey except Istanbul and the predominantly Kurdish provinces of...
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