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The Challenge of Revolutionary Terrorism to Turkish Democracy 1960-80

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After the dramatic failure of the socialist Turkish Labour Party in the election of 1969 many extremist left-wing ideologists seemed to regard terrorism as a legitimate method of achieving their objectives. Cayan, for instance, made it clear early in the 1970s that he considered that there was no alternative and that political power had to be obtained through the methods of armed violence. Although one of the main factors responsible for political violence was the autocratic state tradition and the rigid understanding about prevention of political terrorism and violence, the major political parties also failed to play a constructive role in protecting democracy in Turkey. The left in the period of 1960-80 claimed that parliamentary democracy in Turkey was a device to perpetuate social injustice and backwardness, allowing the upper classes to enrich themselves by maintaining semi-feudal relations in society while the right-wing groups considered that democracy had destroyed the traditional social order and its values, allowing the left the freedom to subvert and undermine the national integrity and character. In this framework, this article assumes that these bloody years in Turkey have many lessons for preventing revolutionary terrorism in a pluralistic environment.
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Keywords: Turkey; Turkish democracy; revolutionary terrorism; terrorism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2001

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