In this sense Turkish society has been under the educational, legal and organizational spell of a militaristic mentality since the inception of the republic. Now this is changing. However, despite democratic reforms and advances in civilian rule, it would be interesting to see the remnants of militarism in public opinion. I will follow on my last article referring to a recent poll taken by MetroPoll on coups.
When asked “How would your confidence in the army be affected if it intervenes in politics?” According to the findings, 19.1 percent of the voters indicated “it would increase their confidence,” 54 percent said they would lose confidence, 20.9 percent said that “their attitude would not change,” and 6 percent have no idea or answer (HNIA).
When broken down according to party affiliations, the answers are as follows: For Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters, 17.2 percent said their “confidence will increase,” 18.3 percent said “their attitude will not change,” and 57.9 percent said their “confidence will diminish.” Responses for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) were 24.8 percent, 31.8 percent and 40.1 percent, respectively. Taken together, 56.6 percent of CHP supporters would either be happy or remain indifferent to military tutelage. As regards Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supporters, 25.2 percent said their confidence will increase, 14.5 percent will not be affected (together 39.7 percent), while 58 percent will lose confidence. As would be expected, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) followers are much more opposed to military intervention in politics: 13.3 percent said their confidence will increase, 6.7 percent said their attitude will not change, and 80 percent said they will lose confidence. The summary of these figures is that the CHP is the singular political party that harbors militaristic leanings among political parties in Turkey followed by the MHP, which is popularly believed to be more pro-military than the former.
When asked whether the command of the General Staff should be attached to the Ministry of Defense (as opposed to the Prime Ministry, which gives it virtual autonomy), 57.3 percent of AKP supporters said “yes” and 27.1 percent said “no,” 42.1 percent of CHP supporters indicated “yes” with 49.2 percent “no,” 49.2 percent of MHP supporters said “yes” and 48.1 percent said “no.” Of the BDP supporters 42.2 percent said “yes,” and 51.1 percent said “no.” It seems the confidence of the BDP in civilian politics, especially the AKP, is less than its confidence in the army, as we have lately learned that it has carried on negotiations in secret with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
When asked “whether Article 35 of the military bylaws that give the army the authority to protect and uphold the republican regime should be changed,” 36.3 percent of all the voters said “yes,” 25.5 percent said no, and 38.2 percent remained undecided.
The undecided category is distributed as follows: the AKP 38.2 percent, the CHP 29.8 percent, the MHP 35.1 percent and the BDP 15.6 percent. Of the AKP voters, 42.1 percent are for attaching the chief of General Staff to the Ministry of Defense, whereas 15.9 percent are against it. Among CHP voters, 26.9 percent are for, and 43.4 percent are against; 23.7 percent of MHP voters support the initiative, whereas 41.2 percent oppose it; among BDP voters these inclinations are, respectively, 75.6 percent and 8.9 percent.
Maybe the most critical question on the interview sheet was, “Would you go out and protest if there was an attempted military coup today?” The results: 65.8 percent indicated “yes, I would,” whereas 26.7 percent said “no” with 7.4 percent, according to HNIA. To the same question, 71 percent of AKP supporters answered positively and 23.7 percent negatively; 59.1 percent of CHP voters indicated they would protest, 33.9 percent would remain aloof. MHP voters are not much different, with 59.5 percent protesting and 34.4 percent remaining indifferent. However, 77.8 percent of BDP voters are determined to protest, with just 13.3 percent remaining indifferent.
It seems militarism or seeing the military as a guardian will linger on for some time to come.