Military intervention and political and economic restructuring 1980-1991 W6 The military takeover began on Friday, September 12 1980 shortly after midnight. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers rolled into major cities throughout the early hours of morning. Troops set up barricades at major intersections, while military police searched for persons marked for arrest. Soon the state radio broadcasted Military Communiqué No.1 that explained the rationale of the coup. The aims of the coup were expressed as preserving the integrity of the country, restoring national union and togetherness, averting a possible civil war, re-establishing the authority of the state and eliminating all the factors that prevent the normal functioning of the democratic order. The military leaders suspended the constitution, outlawed all political activity and declared martial law throughout the country. The military government institutionalised as the National Security Council (NSC), dissolved the parliament and government and assumed all legislative and executive powers. The Turkish ambassador in Rome, Admiral Bülent Ulusu was appointed premier and formed a cabinet consisting chiefly of civilians. Kenan Evren, Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces became the head of state. Three days after the coup, the army headed to factories where rumours of protests circulated. More than 50, 000 workers were on strike since July. The military ordered them to give an end to strike and go back to work while the employers were forced to mandatory wage concessions. At this stage, many union leaders and rank and file cadres were already in jail and army units were stationed in many key plants. Consequently, few clashes occurred and nearly all workers returned to work. The junta imposed censorship and many newspapers were banned and journalists imprisoned. Following the closing down of several newspapers and periodicals, the newspaper editors chose to exercise selfcensorship and avoided printing news or editorial comments that were critical of the government’s policies to avoid these sanctions. Mayors and city council were removed from their posts and military officers took charge of running the main cities. 150 trade union offices, dozens of political party offices, all professional and cultural associations and other groups were closed. Arrests continued in every city and region, but especially in the Kurdish region of the east, where the junta sent military reinforcements. The first executions were carried out in October 1980. By the end of the military regime the number of executions reached 48. The period of detention without trial was extended to 90 days. Between September 1980 and February 1983 over 60,000 people suspected of terrorism and illegal political activities were arrested. In this period, 800 people went missing, 300 people died “suspiciously” and 171 people’s death from torture has been confirmed via documents. The government classified officially acknowledged arrests that took place between September 1980 and February 1983. 54 percent of the arrests were classified as leftists, 25 per cent as unknown, 14 percent as rightists and 7 percent as Kurdish separatists. The 12 September process can be best described as a simultaneous process of political authoritarianism and economic liberalism. On the one hand, the wrath of the junta fell on the political parties, trade unions, bureaucrats and the universities that have experienced restrictions as part of the political restructuration process. On the other hand, the military regime carried out structural adjustment policies in an environment where all groups that could potentially resist these economic policies were silenced. All political parties were dissolved and 240 politicians were banned from politics for five to ten years. Thus the Turkish political landscape was totally devoid of any legal party activity between late 1981 and early 1983. Apart from banning all political parties and their leadership cadres from politics, the military rewrote the constitutional, legal and electoral rules governing the Turkish political system. The 12 September coup was a de-politicisation operation that targeted the entire society. The parties were organised in such a way as to prevent their links with associations, trade unions, co-operatives, foundations, occupational and professional associations. According to this logic, voluntary associations were meant to be non-political and limit their activities to those directly connected with the purposes for which they have been established. This operation also required crushing every manifestation of dissent from the left, including revolutionaries, social democrats and trade unionists. The extreme right, represented by the Nationalist Action Party, was also crushed. The junta also undertook measures to bring the civil service under tighter control. At first, the military regime experimented working with the existing civil bureaucrats. Towards the end of 1981, there were signs that largescale purges were in prospect. Martial law commanders across the country were empowered to remove or reassign civil servants under their jurisdiction at their discretion. Regarding the universities, the Constitution legalized the centralization of university administration under the Higher Education Council which meant that the universities lost their administrative and financial autonomy by being attached to the president through the Higher Education Council Higher Education Council was designed to prevent the excessive politicization of the universities throughout the 1970s. The students and the faculty members were banned from participating in political organizations while a number of professors were expelled from the universities due to their alleged or real involvement in “subversive” activities prior to the coup. On the other hand, junta’s political authoritarianism should assume responsibility for the rise of Kurdish problem in the 1980s. The military regime tried to “solve” the Kurdish Problem through the use of violence. The PKK was one of the weakest political groups when the 12 September Coup had taken place. There were other political groups, such as Özgürlük Yolu (The Route to Freedom) that was very influential. In the words of Oral Çalışlar “PKK was the Kurdish alternative for violence, whereas Özgürlük Yolu was the alternative for peace”. Through the violence exerted in the South East region and the torturing of Kurdish intellectuals, the 12 September regime contributed in the repression of the peace alternative among the Kurds. It thereby entrenched the violent alternative within the Kurdish Population. Hence, PKK capitalised on the frustration of the Kurdish People and entrenched its own position. The hallmark of this period was the political authoritarianism that aimed the de-politicization of the entire society. In this frame, the most severe pressure was experienced by the labour unions. The impact of the coup on the labour unions has been severe. Although the major labour confederation Türk İş was allowed to survive, the activities of DİSK were suspended on the very first day of the coup. Another communiqué of the military administration on 14 September prohibited all strikes and lockouts until new instructions. DİSK was tried in a military court until April 1991, when article 141 of the Turkish Criminal Code punishing communist organisation, the crime attributed to DİSK itself, was repealed. The Military High Court of Appeals overturned the decision of lower court to close down DİSK and acquitted the DİSK leadership in 1991. What was the bourgeoisie’s relationship to the junta? 24 January 1980 decisions reflected a will to restructure the economy in the general direction advocated by TÜSİAD. The military banned all the parties and civil society organizations but TUSİAD was an exception. The junta regime sent a group of TÜSİAD representatives to Washington to give the message that it will remain loyal to structural adjustment policies. In October 1981, the NSC appointed a consultative assembly to draft a new Constitution. Unlike the 1961 constitution when a constituent assembly made up of civilians had deliberated the rewriting of the constitution, the newly drafted 1982 did not involve the participation of the representatives of political parties and interest groups. As part of the political restructuration process, the 1982 Constitutional Referendum has been carried out within strict circumstances. The 1982 referendum followed a one-sided campaign conducted by General Kenan Evren, the head of state and chair of the NSC. The criticism of the speeches made by Evren in his pro-constitution campaign was banned with an NSC decree. The decree also prohibited the expression of any views intended to influence voters’ decisions. Furthermore, the 1982 constitutional referendum was combined with the election of the president of the republic. A “yes” vote for the constitution would automatically mean that General Evren (the sole candidate) would be the President for a seven year period. Under these circumstances, the referendum was held on 7 November 1982. Voter participation was 91.27%, 91.37 percent of voters affirmed the Constitution whereas 8.63% were negative. The 1982 constitution provided for an enlarged role for the military in politics in the form of the National Security Council. This council would consist of the president of the republic as presiding officer, the prime minister, the chief of the general staff, the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, and defence, and the commanders of land, air and naval forces and the gendarmerie. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the 1982 Constitution was its restructuring the relationship between the legitimacy and executive. The 1961 Constitution had been loyal to the superiority of the legitimacy principle whereas 1982 Constitution increased the powers of the executive. The changes in the internal structure of the executive is also remarkable. Two tendencies can be observed: the increase in centralization and the expansion of the power of the Presidency. Furthermore, the 1982 Constitution brought forth provisions that aimed to discipline the working class. According to the Article 52 of the Constitution of 1982, the unions could not have “political aims”, they could not engage in political activities, support political activities or receive support from them . The Unions Law issued in 1983 further contributed in the curtailing of the workers rights. Unions are defined in terms of narrow economic demands of workers. Such kind of a definition excludes pursuing action in the name of democratic rights and freedoms. According to Articles 37 38 and 39 of the Unions Law of 1983, unions cannot engage themselves with politics, unions can not deal with trade, unions can not make meetings in issues other than those related to their own specific aims. Thus, by imposing strict control over all the potential sources of opposition, namely the political parties, trade unions and the press, the coup made it possible to achieve the policy objectives of the stabilization package. 24 January decisions were mainly introduced to curb the growth of domestic demand. Domestic demand was restrained by a combination of contractionary fiscal and monetary policies in order to generate excess capacity that was intended to meet the external demand. The success of this policy depended on two things; the existence of the products that could be exported and the slackening of the internal prices. On the other hand, it was believed that inflation derived from the demand pressure and especially the increase in wages and deficits of Public Sector. Due to these reasons, an anti-inflationist policy was formulated which was based on the one hand on the suppression of wages, and on the other, the overcoming of SEE deficits through continuous price increases. Turkey’s way out of the deepening crisis of the world economy of the late 1970s turned out to be further integration into the world capitalist economy. The aim of the economic transformation and the new strategy of capital accumulation was to specialise in low-value added, labour-intensive industries in conformity with the role Turkey was allocated in the world economy. In this frame, in 1980 Turkey emerged as the “test case” for the newly instituted World Bank-IMF joint programs involving “cross-conditionality”. During the 1980-1984 period, Turkey received five successive structural adjustment loans (SALs) from the World Bank whereas the IMF’s stand-by agreements was for an unprecedented three years and was extended for a further one year in 1983. In an environment where the unions and left wing movement was severely repressed, labour has borne the whole burden of the economy’s adjustment to the export-oriented growth model. Silencing of dissent gave the state a free hand in fulfilling the necessity to appropriate a greater amount of surplus value dictated by internationalization. As international competition assumed growing importance for capital tending to become internationalized, the contradictions between the working class and capital was intensified. Starting from 1980s, the state has been responsible of various acts that resulted in a fundamental change of balance of class forces in Turkey. As a result, labour’s position increasingly deteriorated through the prevention of unionization, suppression of wages and the flexibilization of the labour markets. Furthermore, the tax policy that was adopted in the early eighties was in conformity with the export- oriented strategy of contracting the internal demand. While the tax burden on the wage-earners increased, taxes levied on the corporate enterprises were visibly decreased with an intention to contribute to new investments and the capital accumulation process. Yet, this measure would fail to produce the expected result. Despite the tax burden on capital being released, there was no considerable increase in the investment in post-1980 Turkey.