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The Countermajoritarian Difficulty, Turkish Style

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5 Responses

  1. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    I’m not at all troubled by the Supreme Court as a countermajoritarian institution myself, as the “will of the people” is sometimes dangerous and wrongheaded because irrational, too passionate, etc. But this is not an argument I want to pursue here as it is far too complex and time-consuming.

    Rather, I simply want to thank you for a level-headed and fair assessment of the situtation in Turkey today. If any CO readers are new to the religion and politics of Turkey and want to begin a systematic exploration of the subject, they could do worse than consult the following:

    Ahmad, Feroz. Turkey: The Quest for Identity. Oxford, UK: Oneworld, 2003.

    Barkey, Henri J. and Graham E. Fuller. Turkey’s Kurdish Question. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998.

    Berkes, Niyazi. Development of Secularism in Turkey. Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964.

    Bozdogan, Sibel and Resat Kasaba, eds. Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1997.

    Gunter, Michael M. The Kurds and the Future of Turkey. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997.

    Hillebrand, Carole, ed. The Sultan’s Turret: Studies in Persian and Turkish Culture. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1999.

    Houston, Christopher. Islam, Kurds and the Turkish Nation State. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2001.

    Howe, Marvine. Turkey Today: A Nation Divided Over Islam’s Revival. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.

    Kayali, Hasan. A History of Modern Turkey. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    Kinzer, Stephen. Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002.

    Kirişci, Kemal and Gareth M. Winrow. The Kurdish Question and Turkey: An Example of a Trans-state Ethnic Conflict. London: Frank Cass, 1997.

    Kucuk, Hulya. The Role of the Bektashis in Turkey’s National Struggle. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2002.

    Lewis, Bernard. The Emergence of Modern Turkey. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 3rd ed., 2001.

    Liel, Alon (Emanuel Lottem, trans.). Turkey in the Middle East: Oil, Islam, and Politics. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publ., 2001.

    Malik, Hafeez, ed. Russian-American Relations: Islamic and Turkish Dimensions in the Volga-Ural Basin. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000.

    Mardin, Şerif. The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization of Turkish Political Ideas. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.

    Mardin, Serif. Religion, Society and Modernity in Turkey. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002.

    Olson, Robert W. The Kurdish Question and Turkish-Iranian Relations: From World War I to 1998. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publ., 1998.

    Olson, Robert W. Turkey’s Relations with Iran, Syria, Israel, and Russia, 1991-2000: The Kurdish And Islamist Questions. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publ., 2001.

    Özbudun, Ergun. Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000.

    Özdemir, Adil and Kenneth Frank. Visible Islam in Modern Turkey. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000.

    Pope, Hugh and Nicole Pope. Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2000.

    Rubin, Barry and Kemal Kirişci, eds. Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001.

    Shankland, David. The Alevis in Turkey: The Emergence of a Secular Islamic Tradition. London: Curzon, 2003.

    Tapper, Richard, ed. Islam in Modern Turkey: Religion, Politics, and Literature in a Secular State. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1994.

    Toprak, Binnaz. Islam and Political Development in Turkey. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981.

    White, Jenny B. Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2003.

    Yavuz, M. Hakan. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003.

    Zürcher, Erik. Turkey: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris, 1997.

    If anyone is interested in more historically oriented titles I can send along a short list upon request.

  2. I think there’s also the point that–because they don’t have military power–successful countermajoritarian action by the courts indicates that the population has internalized constitutional norms about the rule of law.

  3. Buck Smith says:

    Good post! In the US, the Supreme’s countermajoritarian power is checked by voters ability to amend the constitution. Amendments correctly require a super majority over a long period of time. I don’t know if a supermajority of Turks can amend their secular consitution to allow a people’s Islamic Republic, but if they do, they deserve what they will get ;)

  4. Greg says:

    You know, I think the Turks got the better deal.

    The Turkish Army occasionally steps in. The US Supreme Court meddles on a regular basis.

    The Turkish Army is bound by principles.

    The US Supreme Court is bound only by what the members think they can get away with.

    For example, I don’t think you’d ever see the Turkish Military striking down Term Limits on politicians.

  5. Dale says:

    “Neither are actually trained as philosopher kings, although arguably law provides better training for high-politics than does, say, the study of logistics.”

    I think you aren’t giving military education and training its proper due. While all military under training in their specialty, a large percentage of military training focuses on leadership and what it takes to lead his/her troops in whatever endeavor they are undertaking. One could argue that this leadership training (and practice in times of war or peace) equips one to perform the “philosopher king” role at least as well as someone who has spent their time academically studying constitutional law.

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