1908 Ottoman general election

General elections were held in November and December 1908 for all 288 seats of the Chamber of Deputies of the Ottoman Empire, following the Young Turk Revolution which established the Second Constitutional Era. They were the first elections contested by organised political parties.[1]

1908 Ottoman general elections

← 1877 November–December 1908 1912 →

288 seats in the Chamber of Deputies[1]

Grand Vizier before election

Kâmil Pasha

Elected Grand Vizier

Kâmil Pasha

Only men were allowed to vote during the Second Constitutional Era

Background edit

The Young Turk Revolution in July resulted in the restoration of the 1876 constitution, ushering in the Second Constitutional Era, and the reconvening of the 1878 parliament, bringing back many of the surviving members of that parliament; the restored parliament's single legislation was a decree to formally dissolve itself and call for new elections.

The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the driving force behind the revolution, was in an advantageous position for the election. Because it was still a secret organization, the CUP did not organize itself into a party until well after the elections in its 1909 Congress at Selanik (Thessaloniki).

In the lead up to the election, Mehmed Sabahaddin's League for Private Initiative and Decentralization [tr] established itself as the Liberty Party. The Liberty Party was liberal in outlook, bearing a strong British imprint and was closer to the Palace. It hardly had time to organize itself for the election.

Electoral system edit

The elections were held in two stages. In the first stage, voters elected secondary electors (one for the first 750 voters in a constituency, then one for every additional 500 voters). In the second stage the secondary electors elected the members of the Chamber of Deputies.[1] The CUP was successful in abolishing quotas for non-Muslim populations, by amending the electoral to instead stipulate one deputy to every 50,000 males.[2]

Results edit

The Committee of Union and Progress, the main driving force behind the revolution, could count on the support of about 60 deputies,[3] gaining the upper hand against the Liberty Party. Many independents were elected to the parliament, mostly from the Arab provinces. The new parliament consisted of 147 Turks, 60 Arabs, 27 Albanians, 26 Greeks, 14 Armenians, 10 Slavs, and four Jews.[1]

Ethnic composition of the 1908 Ottoman parliament
  Turks: 147 seats
  Arabs: 60 seats
  Albanians: 27 seats
  Greeks: 26 seats
  Armenians: 14 seats
  Slavs: 10 seats
  Jews: 4 seats
Map of ethnicities of Ottoman MPs

Aftermath edit

Following the electoral victory, the CUP transformed itself from a clandestine organization to a political party. Before that would happen though, Abdulhamid II (r. 1876–1909) would attempt to regain his autocracy in what would be known as the 31 March incident.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Myron E. Weiner, Ergun Özbudun (1987) Competitive Elections in Developing Countries, Duke University Press, p334
  2. ^ Hasan Kayalı (1995) Elections and the Electoral Process in the Ottoman Empire, 1876–1919, Cambridge University Press, p276
  3. ^ Philip Mansel, "Constantinople City of the Worlds Desire" quoted in Straits: The origins of the Dardanelles campaign