The transition in 1923 from monarchy to republic marked a profound political, economic and social transformation for Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was a multinational theocratic state, with Islam as the official religion and the Sultan standing as the Caliph or all the world s Muslims. The republic was a national state, adopting secularism as an unchanging constitutional principle and abolishing the Caliphate. The Empire bad an authoritarian structure with the Sultan wielding all powers. With the rounding or the Republic, these powers were duly banded over to the Parliament. Due to the constraints imposed upon her by industrialized countries, under binding agreements known as "capitulations", the Ottoman Empire had no freedom or action in economic affairs.
The Republic removed these constraints and modernised the economic and social structure or Turkey. The Ottoman culture was dominated by Islamic and oriental values, the Republic introduced the western concepts or democracy, human rights, women's rights and the responsibility or the state in the fields of education and health. The years from 1923 to 1946 marked a period at institutional, political and cultural preparation for democracy. It was a time of radical changes in legislation, in education and in the administrative structure of the state. The Second World War briefly interrupted this political evolution but, once the over, national elections were held for the first time in 1946. In 1950, the voters elected an opposition party and the Government changed hands, thus ending the one-party system.
The history of democracy in Turkey has not been without its ups and downs. Democracy is a process that needs time to take root and function smoothly. The first decade after 1950 was marked by violent antagonism between political parties and popular unrest. This led the way to a military intervention which suspended democracy for one year. The process restarted in 1961 hut not without difficulties and crises. The political confrontation was aggravated by social confrontations and. the emergence of radical groups who resorted to violence. A new military intervention took place in 1980. hi 1982, after a new constitution was adopted by referendum, elections were held and resulted, in the victory of a centre party advocating economic liberalism
Education in Turkey is of crucial importance, as almost half of the entire population is made up of people under 20. A compulsory eight year elementary education is followed by three year high school, all of which are provided free by the government. Alongside countrywide state education, there are now many private schools emphasizing foreign language teaching. There are more than 80 universities throughout the country, most of which are goverment-supported institutions. Bogazici University is one of the most prestigious state universities, (above) In recent years the private sector has also extended its support of higher education, opening well-financed foundation universities such as Bilkent in Ankara, and Koc and Galatasaray in Istanbul.
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