The role of the military in transitons to democracy: a comparison of the Spanish and Turkish cases
Ecevit, Alper Yüksel (2007) The role of the military in transitons to democracy: a comparison of the Spanish and Turkish cases. [Thesis]
Transitions from authoritarian rule to fully-fledged democracy do not always proceed in a linear fashion. The complexity of the political systems in different countries prevents us from establishing one single model to explain their different experiences. However, comparative analyses of differing transitions to democracy give us insight into the conditions and actors influencing the processes. This study aims to clarify the military’s influence over transitions to democracy in two Southern European countries: Spain and Turkey. Spain and Turkey shared an authoritarian past, and experienced a transition to democracy by the late 1970s in the former and the early 1980s in the latter. The military was a significant political actor in both countries. However, the Spanish military failed to influence the transition while their Turkish counterparts initiated and controlled the transition from above. These transitions differed not only in the initial conditions but also in the outcome. Spain, despite being ruled by an authoritarian regime almost a halfcentury, achieved a consolidated democracy while Turkey still struggles with different challenges to democratic consolidation, including the current influence of the military in politics. This thesis helps to comprehend the conditions which led to different outcomes by focusing on one of the neglected actors in transitions to democracy: the military. Ostensibly, initial conditions explain the different outcomes, to a certain extent.Yet, this thesis concludes that conditions in the post-transition years were as influential as the initial conditions. Therefore, explaining the outcome only by referring to the initial conditions would be reductionist and misleading.
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