Businessmen and Democratization: A Comparative Analysis of Greece and Turkey
26 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 3 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2009
This paper analyzes the attitudes of businessmen toward the Greek authoritarian regime of 1967-1974 and toward the Turkish military coup of 1980-1983. A closer look at these last overt coups helps to highlight current differences between Greece and Turkey as they relate to democracy, civil-military relations, and divergences in elite attitudes toward politics. Both Greek and Turkish military regimes have been considered to fit the bureaucratic-authoritarian model. However, evidence from interviews with 50 Greek businessmen who lived through the 1967 dictatorship suggests that economic elites did not support the colonels’ regime, as the bureaucratic-authoritarian model predicts. The Turkish case fits the pattern more accurately, since interviews with 50 businessmen who experienced the 1980 coup show that they welcomed the military intervention. This contrast between Greek and Turkish businessmen, however, does not mean that economic elites of one Aegean country were more democratic than the other. Indeed, interviews also reveal that Greek and Turkish economic elites were “contingent democrats” and adapted to military and democratic regimes, based on their economic and political interests. The Greek businessmen only cautiously supported democracy when the socialist PASOK won elections in the early 1980s, during the consolidation phase of democracy. Turkish businessmen, on the other hand, did not support the 1971-73 military intervention, as they did seven years later in 1980. As well, despite their support for the coup in 1980, a majority of Turkish businessmen embraced the democratic transition in 1983, placing their election vote in the only candidate independent from military influence. This paper analyzes the circumstances, including political learning and perceptions of threat, leading to changes in the assessments of the businessmen in Greece and Turkey between the 1960s and 1980s.
Keywords: business, democratization, Greece, Turkey, military interventions
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation