1912 Ottoman general election

Early general elections were held in the Ottoman Empire in April 1912. Due to electoral fraud and brutal electioneering, which earned the elections the nickname Sopalı Seçimler ("Election of Clubs"), the ruling Committee of Union and Progress won 269 of the 275 seats in the Chamber of Deputies,[1][2] whilst the opposition Freedom and Accord Party only won six seats.[3]

1912 Ottoman general elections

← 1908 April 1912 1914 →

275 seats in the Chamber of Deputies
138 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
Party CUP Freedom and Accord Party
Seats won 269 6

The Chamber of Deputies after the elections

Grand Vizier before election

Mehmed Said Pasha

Elected Grand Vizier

Mehmed Said Pasha

Background edit

The elections were announced in January 1912, after the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) lost a by-election to the Freedom and Accord Party in Istanbul in December 1911.[4] The CUP had hoped early elections would thwart the efforts of the party to better organise itself.[2] The CUP platform represented centralist tendencies, whilst Freedom and Accord promoted a more decentralised agenda, including supporting allowing education in local languages.[2]

Campaign edit

Bahaeddin Şakir, member of the Committee of Union and Progress
Aristidi Pasha, member of the Freedom and Accord Party

Although the two main parties competing in the election, the CUP and Freedom and Accord, were largely secular in their political outlook, issues such as the Islamic religious piety of their candidates became sensationalised campaign topics. Seeing the potent amount of political capital to be gained by appealing to religion, as the Muslim vote was the most important in the Empire, both parties consistently accused one another of various other supposed offenses against Islamic tradition.[2]

Freedom and Accord members accused the CUP candidates of a "disregard for Islamic principles and values" and of "attempting to restrict the prerogatives of the sultan-caliph", despite the fact that many Freedom and Accord members were quite progressive in their own lives and dealings.[2] In return, the CUP, seeing that its previous policy of secular Ottomanism (Ottoman nationalism) was failing, turned to a similar line of Islamist rhetoric as Freedom and Accord in order to drum up support among the Muslims of the Empire; it accused Freedom and Accord of "weakening Islam and Muslims" by trying to separate the Ottoman sultan's office from the Caliphate.[2] Although this accusation was almost identical to the one leveled by Freedom and Accord at the CUP itself, it was highly effective.[2] Freedom and Accord retorted by claiming that the CUP, in its previous attempt to amend the constitution, was covertly trying to "denounce" and abolish the ritual fasting during the month of Ramadan and the five daily prayers.[2]

Aftermath edit

The manner of the CUP's victory led to the formation of the Savior Officers, whose aim was to restore constitutional government. After gaining support from the army in Macedonia, the Officers demanded government reforms. Under pressure, the Grand Vizier Mehmed Said Pasha resigned.[1] Sultan Mehmed V then appointed a new cabinet supported by the Officers and Freedom and Accord.[1] On 5 August 1912, Mehmed V called for early elections. However, with the election underway in October, the outbreak of the Balkan Wars led to it being interrupted.[2] Fresh elections were eventually held in 1914.

The CUP went to the polls in an electoral alliance with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, but the alliance broke down after only 10 of its 23 candidates won seats due to a lack of support from the CUP.[5]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c The Decline of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the 'Arab Awakening' before 1914
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hasan Kayalı (1995) "Elections and the Electoral Process in the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1919" International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp 265–286
  3. ^ Myron E. Weiner, Ergun Özbudun (1987) Competitive Elections in Developing Countries, Duke University Press, p334
  4. ^ Hasan Kayalı (1997) Arabs and Young Turks University of California Press
  5. ^ Kieser, Hans-Lukas (2018). Talaat Pasha: Father of Modern Turkey, Architect of Genocide. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-691-15762-7.