A fissure in 'unanimous democracy': parliamentary contestations over property rights on land in early Republican Turkey

Kaya Y.

MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.55, no.4, pp.540-556, 2019 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 55 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00263206.2019.1566706
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.540-556
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


The parliamentary politics of Turkey's one-party regime (1925-1946) has been described as a 'unanimous democracy', particularly on account of the absence of a voting opposition. Many scholars consider the Law for Providing Land to Farmers of 1945 as the first instance of parliamentary opposition in the one-party legislature. The current article challenges this widespread view and argues that property rights on land tended to provoke backlashes even before 1945. It examines the making of the deportation, land distribution and settlement laws of the 1920s and 1930s, all of which sanctioned intervention into property relations on land in the form of the expropriation of landowners. Going beyond an exclusive focus on voting patterns, this article traces parliamentary resistance by examining how government bills changed as they proceeded through both the reviewing committees and the general assembly. It links the birth of a full-fledged parliamentary opposition in 1945 to the previous waves of discontent and shows that property rights on land was a constant fissure in the early Republic's unanimous democracy.