"Turkey's Forgotten Political Opposition: The Demise of Kadirbeyoğlu Zeki Bey."

Title"Turkey's Forgotten Political Opposition: The Demise of Kadirbeyoğlu Zeki Bey."
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBalistreri A.E
JournalDie Welt des Islams
Volume55
Issue2
Pagination141 - 85
Abstract

This article encourages a reevaluation of the role of Anatolian Muslim merchants and notability in the Turkish nationalist movement after World War I. It offers the political career of Gümüşhane merchant Kadirbeyoğlu Zeki Bey (1884–1952) as one step toward such a reevaluation. Zeki is known to historians of Turkey for his seemingly unusual opposition: For a time, he was the only independent member of parliament under the Turkish single-party regime. Zeki was also one of the few outspoken opponents in parliament of abolishing the caliphate. But an examination of the reasons for Zeki’s persistent opposition shows that his background and platform were far from unique. This article first pinpoints the origins of Zeki’s political mobilization in the polarized environment of post-World-War-I Anatolia and explains his initial success in the Turkish nationalist movement. It then charts Zeki’s step-by-step alienation from this movement, from the Erzurum Congress to the last Ottoman parliament. Finally, it details Zeki’s “last hurrah”, the second Turkish parliament, where he championed causes dear to Anatolian Muslim merchants and notability: economic liberalism, social conservatism, civilian rule, and anti-authoritarianism. Zeki owed his initial success to his partisan neutrality and ties to the Ottoman social system, but the quickly changing dynamics of the Turkish nationalist movement soon made his opposition, and that of nationalists with a similar background, untenable.