Government: one by election, another by appointment

We North Americans have grown up with the concept that governments can only govern if elected by the people being governed. In fact, the U.S.A. just completed an election of a president and many members of the senate or the house of representatives at both the state and federal levels of government.

Historically, however, government by election is a rather recent phenomenon. In many countries (even in this twenty-first century), an elected government hasn’t ever existed. The men with the most weapons and political power set up whatever government has suited their purposes. 

A case in point was the government of Ottoman Turkey. About forty years before Columbus bumped into the Americas, the Byzantine Empire lost Constantinople, their capital city, to the Osman (Ottoman) Turkish Army and its Sultan Mehmed. Shortly after 1453, government by appointment began in Ottoman Turkey. The Sultan appointed whomever he wanted as governor for each province. No governor served for life. A Sultan could remove or transfer his appointees at will.

Once the Young Turks grabbed the power in the Ottoman Empire away from the Sultan in Constantinople early in the twentieth century, government by appointment took a disastrous turn. If a governor refused to do the bidding of Talaat, the Minister of the Interior, he didn’t just remove or transfer the recalcitrant appointee. Talaat had the man arrested, transported elsewhere, and often executed. One can well imagine the terror that descended on the remaining appointees, whether a governor of a province or a mayor of a city or town. Rule by threat of extermination was in full force by May of 1915.

Talaat’s merciless treatment of his underlings infused the Turkish government from top to bottom with fear and made obedience to his extreme dictates more likely between March and August of 1915. Because the world was deep into WWI at the time, Talaat believed no one outside of Turkey would notice.

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2 thoughts on “Government: one by election, another by appointment

    • Hello, friend. Thank you for visiting my blog. My research into the political situation in the Ottoman Empire in 1914-1917 has made me grateful for the freedoms we North Americans take so much for granted.

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