Turks - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Strong class prejudice does not seem to be a part of the structure of modern Turkish society, which does, however, show very marked social divisions. This apparent paradox is explained by the fact that although there are very real differences between various social groups, the Turks do not usually think of themselves in terms of class. Political parties are not organized along class lines. The ideology of the republic has avoided class distinctions, and there is increasing social mobility. There is an educated elite in Turkey, which is basically located in the cities. It has been the ruling element in the country in both Ottoman and republican times.

Political Organization. Atatürk established the ideological basis for the modern Republic of Turkey. It has a republican form of government and a democratic, multiparty system. His reforms included the disestablishment of the role of Islam in government and the adoption of the Swiss civil code. The voting franchise includes men and women aged 21 or older. Women were given the vote in national elections in 1934. The 1982 constitution provides for a democratic, parliamentary form of government. The president is elected for a seven-year term and is not eligible for reelection. The prime minister and his or her council of ministers hold executive power, although the president can veto legislation. Turkey is divided into seventy-three provinces ( iller ; sing. il ), administered by governors ( valiler ; sing. vali ).

Social Control. Turkey has long been familiar with military power. This is evident not only in the Seljuk, Ottoman, and republican governments, but in the prestige patterns of Anatolian village societies. Early nomadic existence on the Central Asian steppe, where boundaries were not stable, created within those Turkish tribes a closer reliance on military force than was generally the case in more settled communities. A strong militaristic attitude continues to permeate Turkish society. The military is respected and, generally, trusted. Conscription, which is fifteen months for males at the age of 20, is viewed as a necessary duty.

Although Turkey is a secular state and has adopted the Swiss civil code, civic morality is still governed to a large degree by the laws and traditions of Islam.

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