The Parliament of catastrophe, the Chamber of Deputies that erected the Ottoman Empire’s Tombstone

Monis Bukhari
3 min readMay 27, 2023

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This is a map of the ethnic groups of the Ottoman Parliament in 1908. The formation of this parliament led to a period of military coups, as Germany, France, and Britain struggled for control over the Ottoman Empire. These coups resulted in the overthrow of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the destruction of the entire empire, and ultimately, its disintegration.

Map of the ethnic groups of the Ottoman Parliament in 1908

The fear of this parliament is what led to the demise of the entire Ottoman state.

Red: Turks
Green: Arabs
Light Green: Albanians
Blue: Greeks
Black: Armenians
Yellow: Sephardi Jews
Purple: Bulgarians
Pink: Serbs
Gray: Vlach
Brown: Assyrians

In 1908, elections were held that made the Union and Progress Party, supported by Germany, the majority party in parliament, followed in number of seats by the minority Liberal Union Party, supported by Britain.

Britain pressured Sultan Abdul Hamid II to dissolve parliament and suspend the constitution under the pretext of restoring the Islamic caliphate. France then tried to regain its influence in the Ottoman Empire by allying with Germany to support the nationalists’ revolution/coup in 1909. But Britain returned and triumphed again by supporting the Liberal Union Party, which reorganized itself under the name of the Freedom and Accord Party and won the 1912 elections.

In 1913, Germany supported the coup of the Three Pashas, which turned the state into a one-party state without a parliament, and led the Ottoman Empire to join the war on Germany’s side, ultimately leading to its extinction.

The parliament was composed of 142 Turks, 60 Arabs, 25 Albanians, 23 Greeks, and 12 Armenians (including four Tashnaks and two Hinchaks), as well as five Jews, four Bulgarians, and three Serbs, and one Vlachs. (Source: “Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire, 1453–1924” by Philip Mansel).

The elections held in 1908 were distinguished by a degree of freedom, fairness, and impact. Their electoral districts represented the parties and nationalist movements in each region under Ottoman authority, and each point on this map represents an electoral district.

Footnotes:

Contemporary Romania was called Wallachia (also spelled as Vlachia), and its citizens were called Vlachs (also spelled as Wallachs). Romania chose to change its name to the modern name after its expansion during the period of the Ottoman Empire’s dissolution. The Vlach Jews were the Jews who were citizens of the Principality of Wallachia before and during Ottoman rule.

The Kurds in the Ottoman Empire were primarily refugees who had fled from Iran to escape forced conversion to Shiism, and they were not Ottoman citizens. They did not serve in the army nor did they participate in political life, until Sultan Abdul Hamid established the Hamidiye Cavalry as a semi-private force composed of them.

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Monis Bukhari

Arab researcher, passionate about culinary history, geography, and social history. Uzbek, raised in Syria, resides in Germany. With Arab-Turk roots.