TURKEY: Wild West of the Middle East

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Ya-Vashington. It would be nonsense to describe Turkey as a democracy, yet Ataturk's successor, President Ismet Inb'nii, has guided his nation into a freer political climate than it has ever known before. In 1946 he ordered the republic's first multi-party elections. Last week he held his first press conference. The most important opposition to the government's Republican People's Party (RPP) is the Democratic Party, led by onetime Premier Celal Bayar, an old rival of Inonii. There have been frequent suppressions of the press, but newspapers still scream against the government (one law prohibits "insults" to the President or Parliament, but under it only four offenders have been sentenced in the past three years).

Ismet Pasha works hard to be popular. At least 5,000,000 portraits of him, in formal evening attire, adorn Turkish parlors and offices. Occasionally the President drops into a coffee shop to feel the common pulse. Most Turks still prefer to talk about their late great dictator, whose spectacular personal rule has been replaced by Inonii's bureaucracy, which rules by the collective and painfully slow decision of its thousands of ministers, secretaries, under secretaries and clerks. The consequences are best embodied in a popular Turkish word, yavas (take it easy). Exasperated Americans refer to Turkey's capital, Ankara, as ya-vashington.

Turkey's constitution flatly defines "Statism" as the republic's guiding economic policy. The Turkish .government operates power plants, railroads, ports, communications, sugar, salt and tobacco manufactories, oil, steel & coal enterprises ; it dominates shipping and banking. The bureaucrats have grandiose dreams of industrialization and self-sufficiency. They built a huge steel mill at Karabuk for $23 million—equal to the national education budget for one year. They are blueprinting airplane factories and plush government offices. But Turkey cannot yet keep pace with their plans.

Market for Progress. Turkish coal mines dig only one-tenth as efficiently as American mines. Turkish farmers still have few steel plows. But everybody seems to want improvement. Perhaps the most important result of Turkey's uneven march toward modernization is the creation of new demands—a great market for progress. Most Turks would understand the words of Celtik village's oldest inhabitant, 92-year-old Hayriye Soydan. Stooped, wrinkled and deaf, she still wears the traditional western Anatolian peasant costume—flowered baggy trousers, dark blouse, a blue-and-white yasmak (handkerchief) around her head. Sitting cross-legged on a long sofa, she told her (and, in a sense, Turkey's) story:

"My father, the late Hadji Mehmet, was the most important and feared man of the district. Galloping horsemen slowed down when they passed our house at dawn so as not to wake Hadji Mehmet. Roosters crowed in the name of Hadji Mehmet. But even he died. Nothing is forever. When I was a child, there were seven of us in the village who went to school to learn to read and write from the hoca. I was the richest of the seven, and all I had was my dress and a pair of red slippers. Today even I am not satisfied with one dress and one pair of slippers. There are now so many of us who want, oh, so many small and big things."

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