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The Turkish Republic, Slide Toward Chaos

Turkish nationalists, Suleyman Demirel, National Action Party, Justice Party, leftist groups

After the second constitution was adopted in 1961, Turkey was governed by a series of ever weaker governments. The rapid economic development of the 1950s, combined with liberal legislation freeing workers and others to unite, engendered a series of organizations that assumed power and authority formerly held by the government, the legislature, and the political parties. At the same time, an increasingly active leftist movement spawned violent extremist groups, which engaged in terrorist acts to achieve their ends. These in turn led to the formation of right-wing terrorist bands, leaving the country polarized and both sides fomenting violence. The labor organizations that sprang up after 1950 coalesced into two major labor confederations, Turkish Labor (Turk IS), representing the rightist and more moderate groups, and the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions, incorporating the Communist and other leftist groups. By the mid-1960s the influence of these organizations spread to all areas of Turkish life.

Political affairs also were polarized in two major parties, the CHP, which under the leadership of Bulent Ecevit tended to incorporate social-democratic ideas, and the Justice Party (AP), led by Suleyman Demirel, which more or less represented the old Ataturk traditions. Several minor Communist and Socialist parties represented the various extremes of the left, whereas the National Action Party (MHP) spoke for Turkish nationalists and the National Salvation Party (MSP) advocated a return to an Islam-oriented state. Both of these parties favored active social and economic programs, making it difficult to classify them as right wing in the ordinary sense of the term. The proportional representation provisions of the 1961 constitution made it difficult for any party to gain the majority needed to enact effective legislation. Action, therefore, was taken to the streets.

Article key phrases:

Turkish nationalists, Suleyman Demirel, National Action Party, Justice Party, leftist groups, rightist, MSP, rapid economic development, terrorist acts, major parties, Political affairs, CHP, MHP, political parties, legislature, constitution, right wing, Turkey, violence, streets, authority, ends, influence, workers, AP, majority, sides, turn, term, power, left, country, time, return


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