A few months following the signing of the Lausanne Treaty, by which the Allied powers and the world recognized the independence and sovereignty of Turkey, the Republican People's Party was established on 9 September 1923 and Mustafa Kemal was elected as its chairman. The administrative staff of the party was composed of the military staff who directed the national struggle and high-level bureaucrats. The party, led by the leader and the hero of the Turkish War of Independence, stood for modernizing and westernizing reforms in the political, judicial and educational fields. These developments, however, disturbed the conservative elements in the National Assembly. Discussions flared up on issues such as what would happen now that the sultanate was abolished to how the parliament would act, with whose authority and on whose behalf. The institutions and the office of the Caliphate meanwhile stood in stark contradiction to the new administration. All these developments made a radical transformation compulsory.
Atatürk and the accompanying delegation
in front of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Building
29 October 1933.
Atatürk and the accompanying delegation in front of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Building, 29 October 1933. Thus, the Republic was proclaimed on 29 October 1923 in order to give the state a democratic form in the contemporary sense. Mustafa Kemal, the successful and great charismatic leader of the national struggle for independence, was elected unanimously as the first President of the Republic of Turkey. He appointed Ismet Inönü as the first Prime Minister. Thus, the discussions and doubts about the Presidency were ended. Four months later, the Caliphate, which was incompatible with the principle of republicanism, was abolished and the members of the Ottoman Dynasty were expatriated on 3 March 1924.
Aware that the separation of religious and state affairs and the provision of freedom of religion and conscience for individuals were among the prerequisites of forming a modern society, Mustafa Kemal initiated in the framework of the "principle of secularity" the most important changes. After the abolition of the Caliphate, a series of radical reforms were made in the institutions and the mentality connected to the Caliphate. The Ministry of Shariah and Foundations was replaced by the Chairmanship of Religious Affairs and the Directorate of Foundations, both connected to the Prime Ministry. The religious school order was abolished on 3 March 1924 with the Unification of Education Law and all schools and educational matters were united under the Ministry of National Education. The Shariah Courts were replaced by secular courts with the Judicial Organization Law. The wearing of the turban and fez that were symbols of the former order were banned and the "hat" became the official headgear, following the promulgation of the Hat Law on 25 November 1925. Thus, the traditional symbols in attire, indicating differences of class, rank and religious order were removed. The international hour and calendar systems were adopted on 26 November 1925. The dervish lodges and tombs and the titles of tariqahs (sects) were abolished on 25 November 1925. A Turkish Civil Code was accepted on 17 February 1926 to replace the old civil code and the Shariah Laws, which were the foundation stones of Ottoman law. The acceptance of the Turkish Civil Code made it necessary to secularize all legislation and the Code of Obligations, the Criminal Code and the Commercial Code were also rewritten according to contemporary principles.
Important steps were taken concerning women's rights. Polygamy was forbidden and marriages, to be officially recognized, had to be performed in accordance with the civil code, not according to religious ceremonies as in the past. Also, a law was promulgated which made it necessary to get a court decree to get a divorce. Women obtained the right to vote and be elected in municipal elections in 1930, in elections held for village councils in 1933, and in 1934 they obtained the right to vote and be elected into the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
One of the most important reforms initiated by Atatürk was the preparation of a new Turkish alphabet by a board of linguists and academicians and the law which envisaged the use of Latin letters was adopted by the TGNA on 1 November 1928. The adoption of this new phonetic alphabet was an important step taken to help increase the literacy rate, which had been very low.
The old units of measurement and weight were changed in 1931. Commercial and economic transactions were facilitated with the acceptance of the metric system and a standard system of measurement was established throughout Turkey.
The Surname Law was adopted on 21 June 1934. Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the new Turkish State and Republic, was given the surname of "Atatürk" (Father of the Turks) by the TGNA.
The efforts to create a modern country based on secular foundations was also reflected in the Constitution. An amendment made to the Constitution in 1928 removed the clause which had stated that the religion of the state is Islam. A clause was put in the Constitution in 1937 stating that Turkey is a secular state. Along with these developments, Atatürk established the Turkish Historical Society in 1925 and Turkish Linguistic Society in 1932 in order to strengthen the foundations of the new national state and contribute to the development of a national consciousness among the Turkish people.
The struggle for independence the Turks waged against the imperialist states and the radical social, political and economic reforms initiated by Atatürk constituted an important example and model for developing countries.
Atatürk realized the reforms with the leadership of the Republican People's Party (CHP), which had been established not as a party of any class or group in society but as a party of all the people and these reforms were adopted by the people.
A short time after the CHP was established, the first experiment for a transition to a multiparty system was made. The opponents of the secular and modernizing policies of the government and who thought that the reforms were not compatible with the social and political structure of Turkey including a group of commanders from the National War of Independence such as Rauf Orbay, Kazim Karabekir and Ali Fuat Cebesoy, resigned from the CHP and established the Progressive Republican Party on 17 November 1924. Kazim Karabekir was elected as the chairman of this first opposition party. The Party was "conservative" not "reactionary," regarding its program and the mentality of its founders. However, because it was the only opposition party, those whose interests were harmed by the reforms supported this party thus escalating political passions. In fact, many who were against the Republic and secular developments joined this party. Meanwhile, the reactionary Sheik Said rebellion broke out in Southeastern Anatolia and the government closed the Progressive Republican Party on 3 June 1925.
The second experiment with multiparty democracy in the Atatürk period started with the establishment of the Free Republican Party on 12 August 1930. The Free Party was established with the approval of Atatürk himself. The party was established by Fethi Okyar, the former Prime Minister who was known for his opposition to Ismet Inönü. The new party grew at an unexpectedly rapid pace. The reactionary powers against the Republic, which also made use of the problems created by the world economic crisis in 1929, started to use the new party for their own objectives. Due to the unfortunate events which occurred during Fethi Okyar's trip to Izmir, the party dissolved itself on 17 November 1930.
The Republic administration first adopted a model based on private enterprise for developing the backward economy it had inherited, but in time it was forced to adopt statism to an increasing degree.
During the Atatürk period, a foreign policy was followed based on the principles of the National Pact of 1920 and on peace. As the result of successful diplomacy, the Montreux Agreement was signed in 1936 ensuring that the Istanbul and the Dardanelles (Çanakkale) Straits were included in the national defense system.
Friendship policies with all the neighboring countries were made widespread with the Balkan Pact in 1934 and the Sadabad Pact in 1937. The peace policy aimed at Europe and a correct evaluation of the international conditions made it possible to have Hatay rejoined to Turkey. Hatay, which had previously been given to the French, was first given independence and then rejoined Turkey as the result of a referendum. Meanwhile, the League of Nations refusing Turkish requests, decided that the Mosul and Kirkuk regions should stay under British control.
Atatürk, with his dynamism, strong intuitions, accurate assessments of the balances of power and correct evaluations of domestic and foreign conditions left behind a state which had heartily adopted reforms, modernized institutions, and had taken significant steps in the direction of the Western model when he passed away on 10 November 1938.
Ismet Inönü was elected as the second President of the Republic following Atatürk's death. He was the President and the party chairman at the same time. He led Turkey during very difficult years. He tried to overcome the difficulties stemming from the world economic crisis with a policy of statism during his presidency. He wanted to develop industry by means of the State Economic Enterprises (SEEs) and took important steps in this direction.
Franklin Roosevelt, Ismet Inönü
and Winston Churchill
together in Cairo, Egypt, in December 1943.
Inönü’s greatest success was keeping Turkey out of the Second World War. His policy in this regard was based on establishing various balances at the same time and insisting adamantly on neutrality. When the Soviet-German Agreement was signed on 23 August 1939, Inönü thought that this agreement could harm Turkey and signed agreements with France and Britain on 13 October 1939 and obtained economic aid. Later he signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union on 25 March 1941. In June 1941, a few days before Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Inönü signed a nonaggression pact with Germany. This policy of balances continued throughout the war. When the war was about to end, Turkey sided with the USA, Britain and the Soviet Union and declared war against Germany and Japan and signed the United Nations communiqué dated 24 January 1945. Turkey, which was officially invited to the San Francisco Conference on 5 March 1945, was among the founding members of the United Nations.
Turkey did not enter the Second World War but was negatively affected by the war. Throughout the war a large army was kept alert and ready, prices increased rapidly, many of the basic food items were rationed, many items could not be found or were sold on the black market. Inönü, who was a farsighted statesman and politician, not only sensed the winds of freedom and democracy which had started to blow throughout the Western World after the Second World War but also could not remain a bystander to the social reactions stemming from the problems of the war. In fact, he first mentioned the necessity of "liberalizing the regime" in 1945. Subsequently, he started talking about "the need for an opposition party". He witnessed, with democratic tolerance, the birth of the Democrat Party from within the CHP, its flourishing in 1946, and its coming to power with the 1950 election.
The Republican People's Party (CHP), the ruling party, was also influenced by the winds of freedom and democracy that started to blow throughout the world and especially in Europe towards the end of the war and after the war. A strong opposition movement appeared from within the party that complained about the oppressive management of the party and wanted more freedom and democracy. The tolerant attitude of President Inönü also encouraged this movement.
Celal Bayar, Atatürk's last Prime Minister, and Refik Koraltan also joined this opposition movement which was led at the beginning by Fuat Köprülü and Adnan Menderes. These four deputies of Parliament filed a famous motion to the Parliamentary Group of the CHP, which was later referred to as the "Quartet Motion." They wanted to change the party regulations and some of the laws. Following the refusal of their motion, Bayar resigned from the CHP and from Parliament. Menderes, Köprülü, and Koraltan were expelled from the CHP for not conforming to party discipline.
Bayar, Menderes, Köprülü and Koraltan established the Democrat Party (DP) on 7 January 1946. The establishment of a new party was met with enthusiasm by the people who had become tired of the oppressive policies of a single party rule. The DP, which defended a liberal economic approach and democracy, developed rapidly in a short period of time. It succeeded in entering Parliament in the 1946 elections and came to power as a single power in the 14 May 1950 elections. Thus, the single party period ended in Turkey and for the first time a change in power was realized with the votes of the people.
The DP increased its votes even more in the 1954 elections and strengthened its power. Although it lost votes in the 1957 elections, it remained in power until 27 May 1960.
The DP brought a noticeable liveliness to the economy and substantially increased the living standards of people during its 10 years in power. The economy developed, the earnings of the people increased, and many villages were provided with roads, water and electricity. New areas were taken under cultivation, agricultural mechanization started, trade was accelerated and important steps were taken for industrialization. The period of orienting foreign capital and commercial capital to industry was started.
Close cooperation with the United States that had been adopted during the Inönü period acquired new dimensions in the foreign policy of the DP period. The visit to Istanbul of the U.S. warship Missouri in 1946—the start of the first military and economic aid from America with the implementation of the "Truman Doctrine" and the "Marshall Plan"—strengthened the Western-oriented foundations of Turkish foreign policy, which had been laid by Inönü. Turkey participated in the Korean War, became a member of NATO in 1952 and foreign capital investments and petroleum explorations by foreigners were encouraged during the DP period.
The DP started to lose the support of the people as of 1954. The main reasons for this were the end of favorable cycles in the foreign markets and a slow down in economic growth. In particular, rapidly increasing inflation upset the financial situation of the fixed income population in urban areas, the military, and civilian bureaucrats. Along with the dissatisfaction of the people, the criticisms of the opposition and the media became stronger. In response to the criticism, the ruling party took measures which indicated that it had lost control and started to resort to antidemocratic methods. The obstacles, which Inönü faced during his tours of the country, increased the censorship of the press and established an "Investigation Commission." This led to a widespread debate on the regime in Turkey. University students started demonstrations. The situation became even more tense with the declaration of martial law and eventually the military intervention of 27 May 1960.
Removing the DP from power appeared to be an essential precondition for the solution of the political and economic problems of Turkey and to save the country and democracy, especially for many officers who were sympathizers of Inönü. These officers, of various ranks, who were organized under the title of the National Unity Committee (MBK) led the action in an orderly manner on the morning of 27 May 1960. They removed the DP government and seized power. In the announcement of the revolution, it was stated that the coup was made to save democracy and to prevent fratricidal quarrels, that it was not against any individual or class, that elections would be held in the shortest period of time, and that the government would be transferred to the civilians. The communiqué also stated that Turkey would remain as a member of NATO and CENTO.
The overthrown President, Prime Minister, ministers, deputies of the ruling party and the leading administrators of the ruling party were taken into custody at the War College. General Cemal Gürsel, the leader of the coup d’ètat, assumed the functions of the President, Prime Minister and the Chief of General Staff. The TGNA was dissolved and the MBK took over its legislative functions. A new cabinet, composed chiefly of civilians, was formed on 17 June 1960.There were, however, differences of opinion among the MBK members. Some of the members wanted to hold elections as soon as possible, while others wanted to hold the election only after radical reforms were made. The members in the second group were taken into custody on 13 November 1960 and were later appointed to various posts abroad.
The MBK established in December of the same year a "Constituent Assembly" responsible for preparing a new constitution and a new election law. The Constituent Assembly, which was formed by the representatives of various institutions, began to work on 5 January 1961. The drafts of the new constitution prepared by academicians were reviewed in the special commissions of the Assembly and were submitted for discussion. The draft to which the Constituent Assembly gave its final shape after long deliberations was adopted with a referendum held on 9 July 1961. The MBK left power to the civilians following the elections held on 15 October 1961. In accordance with the Constitution, the 22 members of the MBK entered into Parliament as "Natural Senators" and Cemal Gürsel was elected President.
The administrators of the DP, which had been overthrown on 27 May 1960, were tried in the Supreme Justice Council, a special court established at Yassiada by the MBK. The court sentenced 15 administrators of the DP to death for "violating the Constitution" and sentenced others to various imprisonment penalties. A total of 12 of the capital punishments were commuted into life imprisonment by the MBK. However, Adnan Menderes, the Prime Minister; Fatin Rüstü Zorlu, the Foreign Minister; and Hasan Polatkan, the Minister of Finance, were executed. All of the others who were imprisoned were later released through various amnesty initiatives until 1964.
The first general election which followed the 27 May revolution revealed an interesting picture. The total number of votes the Justice Party (AP) and the New Turkey Party (YTP), two parties which claimed to be the continuation of the DP, were more than the votes that the DP had obtained in 1957. As for the votes of the CHP, these decreased from 41 percent to 37 percent. This result was an expression that the political tendencies of the people had not changed and that in fact, the people had reacted to the coup d'état.
The AP, which would thereafter influence the political life in Turkey in the 1960s and the 1970s, was established on 11 February 1961. The first chairman of the party was Ret. General Ragip Gümüspala.
Following the elections after the coup d'état, the first government which was formed under the leadership of Ismet Inönü was a coalition of CHP and AP. This partnership eased the transformation to a civilian regime but did not last long due to the lack of harmony between the coalition partners.
Süleyman Demirel, the former Director General of the State Water Works, was elected as the new AP chairman when Ragip Gümüspala passed away in 1964. The AP received 53 percent of the votes in the 1965 elections and by obtaining the majority in the Parliament, came to power. Another significant characteristic of this election was that the Turkish Labor Party (TIP), a socialist party, participated in the elections for the first time and obtained 15 seats in the Parliament.
The 1965-1971 period when AP was in power turned out to be one of the most successful periods in Turkey economically, socially and politically. It was a period of high development rates and low inflation. The industrialization process accelerated. Priority was given to investments directed to the rural areas and to energy projects. A more independent foreign policy was followed. Furthermore, 1965-1971 was a period of great freedom in Turkey. This was the period when the laws, which limited free thought and which were considered to be antidemocratic, were applied the least and the number of people arrested in connection with these laws remained at a minimal level. In this period, the masses took important steps in forming political organizations. The press experienced its greatest years of freedom and varying points of views were openly written and discussed.
The student demonstrations which started in France in 1968 and spread all over the world also affected Turkey towards the end of the 1960s. These demonstrations, which started as a reaction to the educational methods and examination system in the universities, later obtained a political and ideological context.
The atmosphere of freedom that had characterized the 1965-1971 period ended with a communiqué on 12 March 1971. The joint memorandum of the Chief of General Staff and four Force Commanders called for the formation of a nonpartisan government of national consensus in which all the political parties would participate so that the necessary reforms, with a Kemalist perception, could be implemented, terrorism and anarchy could be prevented, and the future of the regime could be secured. Otherwise, the army warned that it would undertake the administration directly. Under these circumstances, Prime Minister Demirel handed in his resignation to President Cevdet Sunay the same day.
The first government of the 12 March period was established by Nihat Erim who had resigned from the CHP. Significant numbers of his cabinet ministers were technicians called the "brain team". The first move of Erim's government, which was supposed to make reforms, was to declare martial law and take tough measures. Some important articles of the Constitution were changed. The first Erim government, however, could not cope with the dissonance within the cabinet and was replaced by the second Erim government. Because of the various pressures he had been facing, Prime Minister Erim resigned once again and he was replaced by Ferit Melen, the Minister of National Defense in Erim's former cabinet. The Ferit Melen government in turn was replaced by the Naim Talu government which started a kind of transition process to democracy. In the presidential elections of 1973, Fahri Korutürk, the joint candidate of the AP and CHP, became President whereas Faruk Gürler, the candidate of the 12 March period, lost.
Meanwhile, interesting developments had been occurring within the CHP since 1969. The Secretary General Bülent Ecevit and his colleagues resigned from membership in the Central Executive Board ostensibly because they disagreed with Ismet Inönü, the Chairman, concerning the party policy to be followed against the 12 March regime. This team carried out a fundamental struggle within the party during the 12 March period. In the general congress of the party, which was held in 1972, Ecevit and his colleagues attained the absolute majority of the seats on the Central Executive Board, whereupon, Inönü resigned from the Chairmanship, the Parliament and from the party membership. In the special party congress which was held immediately, Ecevit was elected as the party chairman. A new period started for the CHP.
In the 1973 general elections, which legally put an end to the 12 March period, no party could obtain an absolute majority at the Parliament and so a new period of coalitions commenced. Dissonances, votes of no confidence and deputy transfers followed one after another.
The CHP attained the majority of the votes in the 1973 elections. Ecevit, the chairman of the CHP, established a coalition government with the National Salvation Party (MSP) which reflected Islamic trends. Although this interesting reconciliation created some positive outcomes, the shock waves of the global oil crisis had adverse effects on Turkey. Meanwhile, a coup carried out by the supporters of ENOSIS (Union with Greece) against the Makarios administration on Cyprus during June 1974 forced Turkey to intervene militarily by exerting her rights as a guarantor state accorded to her by the Cyprus Constitution of 1960. The Cyprus problem had important economic and political repercussions. The negative attitude of the West towards Turkey, an economic embargo applied on Turkey by the US, and the expenses of the Cyprus Operation created significant problems in Turkey. When the CHP and MSP disagreed on foreign policy following the Cyprus Peace Operation, the coalition came to an end. Sadi Irmak, a senator, was assigned by President Korutürk to form a new government; but he could not obtain a vote of confidence.
In the meantime, the Democratic Party, which was established by the party members who had left or were expelled from the AP, started to disintegrate in 1971. The AP, which increased its number of deputies, obtained the majority bringing together the MSP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican Confidence Party (CGP). Demirel, who was assigned to form the new government, managed to form a coalition which was called the "Nationalist Front" (MC). It would remain in power until the general elections in 1977.
The MC period continued after the general elections in 1977. Demirel established the Second MC government due to the fact that no party could obtain an absolute majority. "The Second MC", which remained in power until January 1978, could cope neither with the economic, nor with the foreign policy problems and its political profile deteriorated because of escalating terrorism. Turkey had a foreign currency problem -- no imports could be made. The government tried to escape from this problem by means of short term credits with high interests.
The crisis in Turkey gained a new dimension when 11 AP deputies resigned from the party in December 1977. The second MC government led by Demirel was overthrown. Ecevit, the CHP leader, formed the new government with the support of the DP and CGP and the eleven deputies who had resigned from the AP. In this period, the economic situation deteriorated even more. There were shortages of some basic food items and oil and black markets emerged. Prime Minister Ecevit resigned when the CHP suffered a heavy defeat in the elections to renew one third of the Senate in 1979. This time, Demirel formed an AP minority government with the external support of the MSP and MHP on 25 November 1979. In late December 1979, the Chief of General Staff and Force Commanders sent a letter to President Korutürk warning about the adverse effects of political instability. However, both the AP and the opposition parties announced that they were not a party to the warnings in the letter. The 24 January Decrees of the Demirel government to improve the economy yielded positive results in the short-term, but the government could not cope with anarchy and terrorism, and martial law was declared in many provinces. No matter what, a new president could not be elected after Korutürk’s term of office had expired in the first months of 1980.
Military intervention occurred when the army seized power on 12 September 1980 through the chain of order and command. The National Security Council (MGK), which was composed of Kenan Evren, the Chief of the General Staff, and the Force Commanders, dissolved the Parliament and the Government. Martial law was declared all over the country. The chairmen of the AP, CHP, MHP and MSP were taken into custody. The MGK, which vested itself with the legislative and executive powers, appointed Kenan Evren, the Chairman of the Council, as the Head of State. A new government was formed by Admiral Bülend Ulusu. Turgut Özal, the Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry of the final AP government and the architect of the 24 January decisions, was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister Responsible for the Economy.
The economic stability policies, which had been started by the Demirel government, were continued in this period. The most significant development in foreign policy was the approval by the MGK of "the Rogers Plan," named after the NATO Supreme Commander, permitting Greece to return to the military wing of NATO -- contrary to the policy that had been followed by Turkey for a long period of time.
It was decided in June 1981 to form a new "Constituent Assembly," which would include the MGK members and the Advisory Assembly (DM) to prepare a new constitution. On the day that the members of the Advisory Assembly were announced, all the political parties which had earlier been banned were closed by the MGK and their properties were confiscated. The new constitution prepared by the Constitutional Commission of the DM was submitted to a public referendum on 7 November 1982 and was approved by a majority vote of 91.2 percent. After the approval of the new Constitution, Kenan Evren acquired the title of "President". The Political Parties Law went into effect on 24 April 1983 and political activities were gradually permitted for the establishment of new political parties.
At the central right wing, the Nationalist Democracy Party (MDP), led by Ret. General Turgut Sunalp, was established. The MDP defined itself as the continuation of the spirit and philosophy of 12 September. The second initiative, which was not quite welcomed by the MGK, came from Turgut Özal who had resigned from the Ulusu government in 1982. He established the Motherland Party (ANAP) which promised to make economic reforms, liberalize the economy and implement free market policies. The third was the Populist Party (HP), which was aimed to be a left of center party. Its chairman was Necdet Calp, a former Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry in the Bülend Ulusu government. Along with these parties, the True Path Party (DYP), which was known to be a continuation of the AP, and the Social Democracy Party (SODEP), led by Erdal Inönü, the son of Ismet Inönü, were established. However, the MGK investigated the founding members of the new parties and vetoed a significant number of them. The lists of the SODEP and DYP were vetoed the most. In fact, they were practically vetoed out of the general election so that only ANAP, MDP and HP could participate in the elections on 6 November 1983. Turgut Özal's ANAP won the election getting 45.1 percent of the votes and 53 percent of the seats in Parliament. The function of the MGK ended and the four members of the MGK became members of the Presidential Council when the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) convened on 24 November 1983. The first ANAP Government was formed on 13 December 1983 under the chairmanship of Turgut Özal.
ANAP, which attained the majority in the Parliament and came to power in 1983 under the leadership of Turgut Özal, also succeeded in remaining in power after the 1987 elections.
The most significant characteristics of the Özal period were the structural changes in the economy realized by a series of decisive and courageous reforms. These liberal structural reforms were referred to by Özal as the "Great Transformation." The milestones during Özal's tenure were fundamental changes in the Law for the Protection of the Value of Turkish Currency and the Foreign Currency Exchange system, imports and exports were liberalized and a transition to a "Free Exchange Rate" in the foreign currency system. The "import substitution" economic model was replaced by an economic policy that gave "priority to exports." State subsidies were decreased and production was oriented at exports. Value Added Tax was put into effect to increase state revenues. Revenue Sharing Bonds were issued for sale, the Mass Housing and Privatization Administrations were established and free trade zones were formed. Thus, economic growth accelerated and the chronic foreign currency deficit problem was solved.
The most important development in foreign policy was the relative improvement observed in Turkey's relations with European countries. As a matter of fact, the Advisory Assembly of the Council of Europe which had suspended its relations with Turkey, accepted the participation of Turkish parliamentarians in this Assembly in May 1984. On the other hand, Turkey, which followed a policy of neutrality during the Iran-Iraq War that lasted for years, positively developed her trade with both countries. Improvements continued in U.S. relations, which had been revived after permission was given to Greece to return to the military wing of NATO. In this period, Turkey obtained great increases in exports and tourism revenues due to the intensive trade relations established especially with the Middle Eastern and European countries.
Important developments also occurred in domestic politics during the First Özal Government. HP and SODEP were united under the name of the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP). The team of Bülent Ecevit, the former Chairman of the CHP, who had been banned from politics, established the Democratic Left Party (DSP). Political bans were removed in a referendum held on 6 September 1986. Thereafter, Bülent Ecevit became the Chairman of the DSP, Süleyman Demirel became the Chairman of the DYP, Alparslan Türkes became the Chairman of the Nationalist Working Party (MÇP) and Necmettin Erbakan became the Chairman of the Welfare Party (RP).
In the early general elections held in 1987, ANAP came to power with 36 percent of the votes and 65 percent of the seats in the Parliament. The SHP ranked second with 24.75 percent of the votes and the DYP obtained 19.15 percent of the votes. The other parties could not win seats in the Parliament because they could not pass the 10 percent vote barrier. When Kenan Evren's term in office expired, Turgut Özal was elected President on 9 November 1989. He appointed Yildirim Akbulut as the Prime Minister. Akbulut was later elected the new chairman of the ANAP in the party's Special General Congress that convened in November 1989.
President Turgut Özal provided for Turkey's emergence in the international arena and an active role with Western allies through his personal diplomatic initiatives during the Gulf Crisis that started with the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990. Turkey was one of the first countries which implemented the economic embargo imposed on Iraq by the UN Security Council.
A new government was formed after Mesut Yilmaz was elected as the ANAP party chairman replacing Yildirim Akbulut in June 1991. The government formed by Yilmaz decided to hold early elections, which were held on 21 October 1991. The DYP, which focused on democratization and lowering the rate of inflation in its election campaign, emerged as the leading party with 27.03 percent of the votes. The DYP was followed by ANAP, SHP, RP and DSP. However, no party could obtain a majority of the seats at the TGNA. A DYP-SHP coalition was formed by Süleyman Demirel on 20 November 1991. This government succeeded to a certain extent in reviving economic growth and increasing the real income of the wage earners.
Multi-dimensional relations were established with various initiatives of both President Turgut Özal and the government with the Central Asian Republics, which had gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Thus, new horizons were opened for Turkey to become a "regional power." The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), including the entire Black Sea region, envisages economic, commercial and eventually political cooperation among the countries of the Black Sea region. It was established in June 1992 and has increased the importance of Turkey in this region. Furthermore, Turkey has played an active role in the peace operations in Bosnia Herzegovina and Somalia.
Süleyman Demirel was elected President when President Turgut Özal passed away on 17 April 1993. Tansu Çiller replaced Demirel as the Chairman of the DYP in the special general assembly held on 13 June 1993. The new DYP-SHP Coalition Government formed by Tansu Çiller, Turkey's first female Prime Minister, stayed in power from 25 June 1993 until the elections on 25 December 1995.
The Welfare Party became the leading party with 21 percent of the votes in the December 1995 elections. An ANAP-DYP Coalition Government was formed on 5 March 1996, with Mesut Yilmaz as the Prime Minister. This coalition was called the "Anayol" (Main Path). This government lasted for four months. When the DYP announced that it would support a motion filed by the RP against the government, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz submitted his resignation to President Süleyman Demirel on 6 June 1996. Demirel appointed Necmettin Erbakan, the RP Chairman, to form the new government. Erbakan formed the RP-DYP coalition which was called the "Refahyol" (Welfare-Path). Tansu Çiller, the DYP Chairperson, participated in this government as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Deputy Prime Minister. The intensified debates on fundamentalism in this period caused social and political tension. A new process commenced when the National Security Council issued a warning in its meeting on 28 February 1997 that the danger of fundamentalism was increasing. During this tense period, Prime Minister Erbakan resigned on 18 June 1997 in order to transfer the prime ministry to Tansu Çiller, his coalition partner. However, President Süleyman Demirel charged Mesut Yilmaz, the ANAP Chairman, rather than Tansu Çiller, with forming the new government on 19 June 1997. President Demirel approved the ANAP-DSP-DTP Coalition Government formed by Yilmaz, which was called the "Anasol-D" by the public. During the period of Anasol-D, which obtained a vote of confidence on 12 July 1997, an early election decision was taken with the overwhelming majority at the TGNA and a decision was taken for the general and local elections to be held together on 18 April 1999. The government which ruled for 17 months was removed from power by an interpellation on 25 November 1998. As the initiatives of Bülent Ecevit, charged with forming the government, were of no avail, the duty was taken over by Yalim Erez, independent deputy from the Province of Mugla and Minister of Industry. While Erez's initiatives were still going on, the DYP Chairperson Tansu Çiller's announcement that she would support a minority government under the chairmanship of Bülent Ecevit made possible a formula to win a vote of confidence. Likewise, Bülent Ecevit's minority government winning a vote of confidence on 17 January 1999 worked until the election on April the 18th. While DSP, MHP, FP, DYP and ANAP had a right to be represented in the Parliament, CHP could not exceed the general barrage of 10 percent and could not enter the Parliament. While DSP increased its votes at a high rate, MHP was the second party to get the greatest number of votes. The center-right parties such as ANAP and DYP suffered great losses of votes. Also FP (Virtue Party), founded with the inclusion of majority of the independent deputies of RP after it was abolished, could not maintain its percentage of votes.
The DSP-MHP-ANAP coalition government was formed on 28 May 1999, under the chairmanship of Bülent Ecevit, the chairman of the leading party from the election. The 57th Government, formed as a government of reconciliation, advanced such important issues as the civilianization of the State Security Courts, the Act of Banking, the Constitutional amendment envisaging "International Arbitration" and the Social Security Reform. The government, which had achieved a noteworthy success in both application of the economic stability program and curbing inflation had also concluded the presidential elections with a remarkable conciliatory understanding. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the president of the Constitutional Court, who was unanimously nominated by leaders of the five political parties represented in the parliament took over the presidency from Süleyman Demirel whose term in office expired on 16 May 2000. In December 2000, Turkey experienced its worst financial crisis in recent time. In order to curb inflation, increase foreign investment, and stabilize the Turkish economy, Parliament embarked on an ambitious structural reform program. In addition to economic reforms, Parliament passed amendments strengthening and expanding individual human rights including abolishing the death penality. In March 2001, Turkey entered an Accession Partnership with the EU. However in 2002, political pressure led to the resignation of 8 Ecevit cabinet ministers and a call for early parliamentary elections.
Early parliamentary elections in November 2002 resulted in a landslide victory for the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, or AK Parti). The AK Parti took 363 of 550 seats in parliament with 34.3% of the vote; the CHP took 178 seats with 19.4% of the vote; and independents took 9 seats, as other parties participating in the elections did not meet the 10% threshold for obtaining seats. Abdullah Gul became prime minister, and was succeeded a few months later by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The broad public support that carried the AK Parti government to power in 2002 and the overwhelming backing for its reform agenda allowed Turkey to move swiftly ahead in subsequent years in anticipation of European Union accession talks.
At the forefront of Turkey’s efforts under the AK Parti government has been a commitment to greater transparency, accountability, openness, and other anti-corruption measures and their enactment into the nation’s democratic system of government. In recent years, over two hundred new laws have been passed, aimed at modernizing Turkey’s penal code, protecting political dissent and religious pluralism, and ensuring that the human rights of all citizens are protected. Of particular note, state security courts have been abolished and for the first time, Turkey appointed a civilian head of the National Security Council, Turkey’s highest policy-setting body.
As unprecedented progress continued within Turkey, the AK Parti government also worked to address challenges beyond the nation’s borders. Political leaders went to great lengths to achieve a UN-backed resolution on Cyprus, despite rejection of this initiative by others. Turkey also pursued progress toward peace in the Middle East, as evidenced by Prime Minister Erdogan’s June 2005 visit to Israel – only the second such visit by a Turkish leader ever.
Visit out of this site / American-Turkish Embassy • e-Consulate • Turkish Cultural Ministry • Turkish Association of Michigan
COPYRIGHT © 2006 Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey Michigan. All rights reserved.