Republican People's Party (Turkey)

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Republican People's Party

Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi
President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Secretary-GeneralMuharrem Erkek
Spokesperson Faik Öztrak
Founder and 'Honorary President' Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
  • 7 September 1919 (1919-09-07)
    (as a resistance organisation)
  • 9 September 1923 (1923-09-09)
    (as a political party)
  • 9 September 1992 (1992-09-09)
Preceded by Association for the Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia
HeadquartersAnadolu Bulvarı No: 12,
Çankaya, Ankara
Student wingHalk-Lis (high school)
Youth wing CHP Youth
Women's wing CHP Kadın Kolları
Membership (2018)1,217,640 [1]
Ideology Kemalism [2]
Social democracy [3] (since 1965)
Secularism [4]
Pro-Europeanism [5] [6]
Anti-communism (historical) [7] [8] [9]
Political position Centre-left (since 1965)
National affiliation Nation Alliance
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (associate)
International affiliation Progressive Alliance [10]
Socialist International
SloganÖnce insan, önce birlik, önce Türkiye ("People First, Unity First, Turkey First")
Grand National Assembly
140 / 600
Metropolitan municipalities
11 / 30
District municipalities
227 / 1,351
Provincial councillors
159 / 1,251
Municipal Assemblies
4,161 / 20,498

The Republican People's Party (Turkish : Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi [dʒumhuːɾiˈjet haɫk paɾˈtisi] , CHP) is a Kemalist, [11] social-democratic [11] political party in Turkey. It is the oldest political party in the country, and is currently the main opposition in the Grand National Assembly. The CHP describes itself as "a modern social democratic party, which is faithful to the founding principles and values of the Republic of Turkey". [12] The party is cited as "the founding party of modern Turkey". [13] Its logo consists of the Six Arrows, which represent the foundational principles of Kemalism: republicanism, nationalism, statism, populism, laicism, and reformism.

Turkish language Turkic language mainly spoken and used in Turkey

Turkish, also referred to as Istanbul Turkish, and sometimes known as Turkey Turkish, is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around ten to fifteen million native speakers in Southeast Europe and sixty to sixty-five million native speakers in Western Asia. Outside Turkey, significant smaller groups of speakers exist in Germany, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, the Caucasus, and other parts of Europe and Central Asia. Cyprus has requested that the European Union add Turkish as an official language, even though Turkey is not a member state.

Kemalism ideology

Kemalism, also known as Atatürkism, or the Six Arrows, is the founding ideology of the Republic of Turkey. Kemalism, as it was implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was defined by sweeping political, social, cultural and religious reforms designed to separate the new Turkish state from its Ottoman predecessor and embrace a modernized lifestyle, including the establishment of democracy, secularism, state support of the sciences and free education, many of which were first introduced to Turkey during Atatürk's presidency in his reforms.

Social democracy is a political, social and economic philosophy that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist mixed economy. The protocols and norms used to accomplish this involve a commitment to representative and participatory democracy, measures for income redistribution and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. In this way, social democracy aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes. Due to longstanding governance by social democratic parties during the post-war consensus and their influence on socioeconomic policy in the Nordic countries, social democracy has become associated in policy circles with the Nordic model in the latter part of the 20th century.


The political party was established during the Sivas Congress in 1919 as a union of resistance groups against the Greek invasion of Anatolia. The union represented Turkish people as a unified front during the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923). On 9 September 1923, the "People's Party" declared itself to be a political organization and on 29 October 1923, announced the establishment of the Turkish Republic. On 10 November 1924, the People's Party renamed itself the "Republican People's Party" (CHP) as Turkey moved into a one-party period.

A political party is an organized group of people who have the same ideology, or who otherwise have the same political positions, and who field candidates for elections, in an attempt to get them elected and thereby implement the party's agenda.

Sivas Congress

The Sivas Congress was an assembly of the Turkish National Movement held for one week from 4 to 11 September 1919 in the city of Sivas, in central-eastern Turkey, that united delegates from all Anatolian provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which was defunct at the time in practical terms. At the time of the convention, the state capital (Constantinople) as well as many provincial cities and regions were under occupation. The call for the congress had been issued by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk with his Amasya Circular three months before and the preparatory work had been handled during Erzurum Congress. The congress at Sivas took a number of vital decisions which were fundamentally to shape the future policy to be conducted in the frame of the Turkish War of Independence.

Occupation of Smyrna

The occupation of Smyrna was the military control by Greek forces of the city of Smyrna and surrounding areas from 15 May 1919 until 9 September 1922. The Allied Powers authorized the occupation and creation of the Zone of Smyrna during negotiations regarding the partition of the Ottoman Empire to protect the ethnic Greek population living in and around the city. The Greek landing on 15 May 1919 was celebrated by the substantial local Greek population but quickly resulted in ethnic violence in the area. This violence decreased international support for the occupation and led to a rise of Turkish nationalism. The High Commissioner of Smyrna, Aristeidis Stergiadis, took a firm stance against discrimination against the Turkish population by the administration; however, ethnic tensions and discrimination remained. Stergiadis also began work on projects involving resettlement of Greek refugees, the foundations for a University, and some public health projects. Smyrna was a major base of operations for Greek troops in Anatolia during the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).

During the one-party period, the CHP became the major political organisation of a one-party state. However, CHP faced two opposition parties during this period, both established upon the request of CHP leader and founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in efforts to kick-start a multi-party democracy in Turkey. The first one was the Progressive Republican Party established in 1924 by famous generals such as Kazım Karabekir and Ali Fuat Cebesoy, who both served during the Turkish War of Independence, and the second was the Liberal Republican Party founded by Ali Fethi Okyar in 1930. Both parties, however, were banned within a few months of their establishment by the state for veering too closely to Islamism. This experience was followed by the founding of the National Development Party by Nuri Demirağ in 1945.

A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of state in which one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are either outlawed or allowed to take only a limited and controlled participation in elections. Sometimes the term de facto one-party state is used to describe a dominant-party system that, unlike the one-party state, allows democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning the elections.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Founder of the Republic of Turkey

Kemal Atatürk, commonly referred to as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was a Turkish field marshal (Mareşal), revolutionary statesman, author, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, serving as its first President from 1923 until his death in 1938. His dictatorship undertook sweeping liberal reforms, which modernized Turkey into a secular, industrial nation. Ideologically a secularist and nationalist, his policies and theories became known as Kemalism.

Progressive Republican Party (Turkey)

The Progressive Republican Party was a political party in Turkey between 1924 and 1925. It was established by Ali Fuat (Cebesoy) Pasha, Kâzım Karabekir, Refet (Bele) Pasha, Rauf (Orbay) Bey and Adnan (Adıvar) Bey on 17 November 1924, but was later banned on 5 June 1925 after the Sheikh Said Rebellion.

The current structure of the party was established within the transition to the multi-party period. After World War II, the leader of the CHP, İsmet İnönü, introduced democratic elections to Turkish society. There was widespread dissatisfaction with the CHP in the four years after its victory at the first multi-party general election. The party lost the following elections in 1950, and Celâl Bayar replaced İnönü as president.

Multi-party period of the Republic of Turkey

The multi-party period of the Republic of Turkey started with the establishment of the opposition Liberal Republican Party by Ali Fethi Okyar in 1930 after President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk asked Okyar to establish the party as part of an attempted transition to multi-party democracy in Turkey. It was soon closed by the Republican People's Party government, however, when Atatürk found the party to be too influenced by Islamist-rooted reactionary elements.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

İsmet İnönü Turkish general and statesman

Mustafa İsmet İnönü was a Turkish general and statesman, who served as the second President of Turkey from 10 November 1938 to 27 May 1950, when his Republican People's Party was defeated in Turkey's second free elections. He also served as the first Chief of the General Staff from 1922 to 1924, and as the first Prime Minister after the declaration of the Republic, serving three terms: from 1923 to 1924, 1925 to 1937, and 1961 to 1965. As President, he was granted the official title of "Millî Şef".

During the interim "multi-party periods" in between the military coups of 1960, 1971, and 1980, the CHP was regarded as being social-democratic (a member of Socialist International), [14] civic nationalist and secularist/laicist.

The 1960 Turkish coup d'état was the first coup d'état in the Republic of Turkey. The coup was staged by a group of 38 young Turkish military officers, acting outside the Staff Chiefs' chain of command. It was orchestrated by Alparslan Türkeş and ultimately led on May 27, 1960 by General Cemal Gürsel, against the democratically-elected government of the Democrat Party. Alparslan Türkeş was a member of the junta.

The 1980 Turkish coup d'état, headed by Chief of the General Staff General Kenan Evren, was the third coup d'état in the history of the Republic, the previous having been the 1960 coup and the 1971 "Coup by Memorandum". During the Cold War era, 1970s Turkey experienced conflicts between Western-supported nationalist far right elements within the military and militant left-wing groups. To create a pretext for a decisive intervention, the Turkish military allowed these conflicts to escalate; Some say they actively adopted a strategy of tension. The violence abruptly stopped afterwards, and the coup was welcomed by some for restoring order. In total, 50 people were executed, 500,000 were arrested and hundreds died in prison.

Socialist International Political international

The Socialist International (SI) is a worldwide organisation of political parties which seek to establish democratic socialism. It consists mostly of democratic socialist, social-democratic and labour political parties and other organisations.

The CHP, along with all other political parties of the time, was suspended for a brief period by the military junta of 1980. An inheritor party which still participates in Turkish democratic life as a separate party was established in 1984 by the name of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), created by the former leader of the CHP, Bülent Ecevit. The CHP was re-established with its original name on 9 September 1992, with the participation of a majority of its members from the pre-1980 period.

Democratic Left Party (Turkey) social-democratic political party in Turkey

The Democratic Left Party is a Turkish political party, founded on 14 November 1985 by Rahşan Ecevit.

Bülent Ecevit Former Prime Minister of Turkey

Mustafa Bülent Ecevit was a Turkish politician, poet, writer, scholar, and journalist, who served as the Prime Minister of Turkey four times between 1974 and 2002. He served as prime minister of Turkey in 1974, 1977, 1978–79, and 1999–2002. He was the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) between 1972 and 1980, and in 1989 he became the leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP).

Current position

Party's performance in the 2019 Turkish local elections by province. 2019 Turkish local elections CHP.png
Party's performance in the 2019 Turkish local elections by province.
Party headquarters in Ankara, showing a banner urging a "no" vote in the 2017 referendum on establishing a presidential system. Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi Building in Ankara (Republika Turska).jpg
Party headquarters in Ankara, showing a banner urging a "no" vote in the 2017 referendum on establishing a presidential system.

The Republican People's Party is a centre-left political party with traditional ties to the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar workers, retired generals, government bureaucrats, academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals and labour unions such as DİSK.[ citation needed ] Nevertheless, the loose relationship between CHP and some trade unions, business chambers and most non-governmental organisations has alienated many voters.[ citation needed ] The distance between the party administration and many leftist grassroots, especially left oriented Kurdish voters, contributed to the party's shift away from the political left.[ citation needed ]

Despite heavy criticism from liberal and libertarian socialist interest groups,[ by whom? ] the CHP still holds a significant position in the Socialist International and is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists. The CHP urged the Socialist International to accept the Republican Turkish Party of Northern Cyprus as an observer member.[ citation needed ]

At the 2007 general election, CHP ran in alliance with the Democratic Left Party. The CHP suffered a heavy defeat, getting 7,300,234 votes (20.85% of the total). The CHP, DSP, and YTP combined received 21.77% of the votes in the 2002. The party finished first only in the three Thracian provinces of Edirne, Tekirdağ, Kırklareli, as well as two provinces on the Aegean coast, which were İzmir and Muğla. With these results, 112 candidates (13 being DSP candidates) were elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey from the CHP electoral sheet, compared to 178 in 2002.

The CHP increased its vote share from 20.9% to 23.1% in the 2009 local elections. The party gained considerable ground by winning over Antalya, Giresun, Zonguldak, Sinop, Tekirdağ, and Aydın, despite losing Trabzon municipality. In 20 provinces of Turkey, the party received less than 3% of the votes. [15]

At the general elections held in June 2011, the CHP was able to increase its number and percentage of voters to 11,155,972 and 25.98% respectively. At the 2014 local elections, the CHP's total votes went down to 10,835,876 yet it received 26.34% of the overall vote. CHP-backed candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu was able to get only 38.44% of the votes during the presidential election five months later. In the June 2015 general elections where the ruling AKP lost its parliamentary majority for the first time, the party received 11,518,139 votes, or 24.95%. A coalition government was not formed and snap elections were held in November 2015, where the CHP received 12,111,812 votes, or 25.32%.


Atatürk period (1923–1938)

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Gazi1933.jpg
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Members of the CHP in Duzce, 1930s Chp uyeleri.jpg
Members of the CHP in Düzce, 1930s

During the Turkish War of Independence, 1919–1923, the parliament in Ankara was composed of different types of deputies. To have harmony among his followers, Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues formed Müdafaa-ı Hukuk grubu (the "group for Defence of the Law"). The opposition to Mustafa Kemal or to the commissars elected by the parliament united under the name of "second group for Defence of the Law", often shortened simply to "second group" (the followers of Mustafa Kemal were later called "first group"). Although the second group was always in the minority, it could create active opposition within the parliament. In January 1923, Mustafa Kemal announced that first group would be transformed into a party named Halk Fırkası (People's Party). In May 1923, the parliament called a bill for new elections, most probably because Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues wanted to guarantee the Treaty of Lausanne's approval by a more unanimous parliament. The People's Party was formally founded only after the 1923 elections. The 1923 elections were definitely the victory of the forthcoming party, because of its leader's reputation after the military victory of the War of Independence and the liquidation of the second group. Because of the unanimity of this second parliament, the republic was proclaimed, the Treaty of Lausanne was accepted and the Caliphate was abolished.

However, in 1924, after the short-period of one-party rule, many of Mustafa Kemal's ex-colleagues, for many reasons (their growing loss of power, their opposition to the short period of a one-party rule's revolutionary activities, etc.), including Rauf Orbay, Kâzım Karabekir, Ali Fuat Cebesoy and many others founded an opposition party called Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası (Progressive Republican Party). After the foundation of an opposition party, the People's Party changed its name to "Republican People's Party". The life of the Progressive Republican Party was short. In 1925, the Sheikh Said rebellion was sparked in the east of Turkey. The party faced allegations of involvement with rebellion and assassination attempts against Mustafa Kemal and was closed on 5 June by the government. As a consequence, Karabekir and many members of the party were court-martialled and imprisoned. Karabekir was released after being found innocent. From 1925 until 1946, Turkey was under one-party rule, with one interruption; Serbest Fırka (Liberal Party), which had been founded by Atatürk and was led by one of his closest friends, Ali Fethi Okyar. This party was closed down by its founders shortly after the İzmir meeting, which was a huge demonstration against the Republican People's Party. In the period of 1925–1930, the Republican People's Party introduced measures transforming Turkey into a modern state. In the period of 1930–1939, the party transformed itself and tried to broaden its ideology (for instance, the 'six arrows' were adopted in 1930).

The day after Atatürk's death, his ally İsmet İnönü was elected the second president and assumed leadership of the CHP. During the general nationwide congress of the CHP on 26 December 1938, İsmet İnönü was elected as "everlasting CHP leader".[ citation needed ] The delegates awarded Atatürk the title "eternal chief", and awarded İnönü the title "national chief".

İnönü period (1938–1972)

Ismet Inonu during a convention of the party in the late 1930s Ismet Inonu at the congress of CHP.jpg
İsmet İnönü during a convention of the party in the late 1930s

Soon after being elected as President, İsmet İnönü adopted a policy of neutrality despite attempts by the Allies and Axis powers to bring Turkey into World War II. A general election was held in Turkey on 21 July 1946 - the first multi-party elections in the country's history. The result was a victory for the Republican People's Party, which won 395 of the 465 seats, amid criticism that the election did not live up to democratic standards. However, four years later, Turkey's first free general election was held on 14 May 1950 and led to the CHP losing power to the Democrat Party (DP) led by Celal Bayar. İnönü presided over a peaceful transition of power, after which Bayar became the third President of Turkey while Adnan Menderes became Prime Minister. The 1950 elections marked the end of the CHP's last majority government. The party has not been able to regain a parliamentary majority in any subsequent election.

During the 1940s, the CHP established Village Institutes, which were part of an enlightenment project developed in order to reduce the gap that existed between urban and rural areas. Various scientists, writers, teachers, and doctors graduated from Village Institutes; and supported Turkey's modernization efforts, before the program was ended by Adnan Menderes's DP government. UNICEF regards the Village Institutes project as exemplary and has placed its curriculum under protection. [16] [17]

On 26 November 1951, during the ninth CHP Congress, the youth branch and the women's branch of the CHP were formed. On 22 June 1953, the establishment of trade unions and vocational chambers was proposed, and the right to strike for workers was added to the party program. On 2 May 1954, the CHP lost a second consecutive general election to the DP, gaining only 31 seats with 35.4% of the total vote. The DP captured 505 seats with 57.6% vote, due to the winner-take-all system in place. Following this defeat, the CHP began intensifying its opposition tactics and increased its share of the votes to 41%, gaining 178 seats, in the 27 October 1957 elections. The DP gained 424 seats with 47.9% vote amid growing concerns about the DP's authoritarian tendencies in government.

Following the military coup of 1960, a "National Unity Committee" was formed by higher-ranking soldiers led by Cemal Gürsel. The National Unity Committee abolished the Democratic Party and started trials to punish Democratic Party leaders for their alleged dictatorial regime. As a result, on 16 and 17 September 1961, ousted Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged in the İmralı island prison. President Celal Bayar was forgiven due to his old age, but sentenced to life imprisonment. CHP leader İsmet İnönü sent a letter to Gürsel raising concerns regarding the legal process, calling on the death sentences of the ousted government ministers to be commuted in order to calm social tensions following the coup. Nevertheless, right-wing parties have since continuously attacked the CHP for their perceived involvement of the party in the hanging of Adnan Menderes. [18]

In 1961, the Justice Party (AP) was established, claiming to be the successor to the Democratic Party. In the meantime, the National Unity Committee established an interim House of Representatives instead of the Grand National Assembly, in order to prepare a new constitution for Turkey. In the new constitution, the Constitutional Court was to be established, to prevent the government from violating the constitution. The 1961 constitution is accepted as the most liberal and democratic constitution in Turkish history. Also, the winner-take-all electoral system was immediately abolished, and a proportional representation system was introduced. The new constitution brought Turkey a bicameral parliament, composed of the Senate of the Republic as the upper chamber, and the National Assembly as the lower chamber. The National Unity Committee chairman General Cemal Gürsel was elected as the fourth president of Turkey.

The CHP emerged as the first party in the general election of 1961, gaining 173 seats with the 36.7% of the vote. The AP gained 158 seats with 34.8% of the vote. CHP leader İsmet İnönü formed a grand coalition with the Justice Party (AP) and became Prime Minister for a third and final time. This was the first coalition government in Turkey, lasting until 1962 when a split between the CHP and the AP on the issue of amnesty for former DP members resulted in the government's dissolution. İnönü formed a three-party coalition government with the New Turkey Party (YTP) and the Republican Villagers Nation Party (CKMP), though the loss of support for the two junior parties in the 1963 local elections resulted in the government being disbanded in 1963. İnönü was forced to form a fragile minority government supported by Independents, though the government was able to survive a vote of confidence due to outside support from the YTP. The government was overthrown in February 1965 after the opposition parties in parliament united to block the CHP's budget, causing İnönü to resign as Prime Minister. The 29th government of Turkey was formed by Independent MP Suat Hayri Ürgüplü, who had the support of the AP, YTP, CKMP and the Nation Party (MP). Ürgüplü's government presided over the 1965 general election, in which the AP won a parliamentary majority.

İnönü remained as opposition leader and the leader of the CHP until 8 May 1972, losing a second general election in 1969 to the AP. He was succeeded as leader by Bülent Ecevit and died a year later in 1973. He is the most recent President of Turkey to have served as an active member of the CHP during his term.

Ecevit period (1972–1980)

Bulent Ecevit Bulent Ecevit-Davos 2000.jpg
Bülent Ecevit

In 1971, the army brought down the AP government of Süleyman Demirel. The secretary general of CHP Bülent Ecevit protested against military intervention and resigned from his post. He also criticized İnönü for not criticizing the intervention. By his quick and energetic reactions, he gained support from the intellectuals and in 1972, he succeeded İsmet İnönü as the leader of the party. Following some interim governments, CHP won 1973 elections with 33% of the vote and formed a coalition with the National Salvation Party (MSP) of Necmettin Erbakan. Bülent Ecevit began to take on a distinct left wing role in politics and, although remaining staunchly nationalist, tried to implement socialism into the ideology of CHP. The support of the party also increased after Turkish intervention in Cyprus following a coup which had been staged by the Cypriot National Guard led by Nikos Sampson.

However, the CHP and the MSP had very diverged ideologies, especially on secularity and in 1975 a new coalition government led by Süleyman Demirel was formed by four parties. Nevertheless, the CHP was still the most popular party and won the 1977 elections with 41% of the vote, which is a record for the party. Although the CHP couldn't gain the majority of seats and from 1977 to 1979, the CHP was the main party of two brief coalition governments. But in 1980, the AP returned with Demirel. The political switching between the CHP and the AP came to an end when the military performed a coup and banned all political parties.

Recovery period (1980–1992)

After the 1980 military coup, the name "Republican People's Party" and the abbreviation CHP were banned from use by the military regime. Until 1998, Turkey was ruled by the centre-right Motherland Party (ANAP) and the True Path Party (DYP), unofficial successors of the Democrat Party.

CHP followers also tried to establish parties. But they were not allowed to use the name CHP and were not allowed to elect the well known pre-1980 politicians to party posts. So they had to introduce new politicians.

The three parties of CHP followers were the Populist Party (Turkish : Halkçı Parti, HP) of Necdet Calp, the Social Democracy Party (Turkish : Sosyal Demokrasi Partisi, SODEP) of Erdal İnönü and the Democratic Left Party (Turkish : Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP) of Rahşan Ecevit. These names were chosen to remind people of the CHP. Necdet Calp was the late İsmet İnönü's secretary while he was prime minister. Erdal İnönü was İsmet İnönü's son and Rahşan Ecevit was Bülent Ecevit's wife.

The ban on pre-1980 politicians was lifted in 1987 and the ban on pre-1980 parties was lifted in 1992. Both of these normalization steps were largely due to Erdal İnönü's efforts. He also tried to unify the three parties; SODEP and HP merged in 1985 to form the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP), but DSP remained separate.

Baykal period (1992–2010)

The CHP was re-established after the 1987 referendum and a legislation in 1993 which allowed the re-establishment of older parties.

In 1991, since Turkey's election system had two large election thresholds post-1980 (10% nationwide and 15% local thresholds) and since the centre-left was divided into two parties (SHP and DSP), social democrats and democratic left groups had little power in parliament. Between 1991 and 1995, Turkey was ruled by the coalition of centre-right DYP and center-left SHP (later, the SHP joined the CHP). The Islamists returned with a new party, the Welfare Party (Refah), while the nationalist MHP took advantage of the disillusionment felt by former supporters of the Refah Party and the constant bickering of ANAP and DYP.

Deniz Baykal Deniz Baykal2.jpg
Deniz Baykal

In 1995, the Islamist Welfare Party (Refah) entered parliament, and the CHP's share of the vote dropped further to 10% and it received only 49 of the 550 MPs. It now seemed as if the CHP had been replaced as the main left-wing party.

But the Welfare Party was banned in 1998, and during the 1990s the Democratic Left Party led by former CHP leader Bülent Ecevit gained popular support. In 1998, after the resignation of the Refah-DYP coalition following the 28 February "post-modern coup", ANAP formed a coalition government with the DSP and the small centre-right party Democratic Turkey Party (DTP), along with the support of CHP.

However, due to big scandals, corruption and some illegal actions of this coalition, the CHP withdrew its support from the coalition and helped bring down the government with a "no confidence" vote. Just before the elections of 1999, the DSP formed an interim minority government with the support of the DYP and ANAP. Notably, terrorist PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in Kenya during this Ecevit period.

Therefore, in the elections of 1999, the CHP failed to pass the 10% threshold (8.7% vote), winning no seats in parliament. Baykal resigned in 1999 and Altan Öymen became the new leader. But one year later, Baykal became the leader of the party again.

About a month after the 1999 general election, a coalition government between the DSP, MHP and ANAP was formed under the leadership of the DSP. This government passed many important laws, including banking reform, unemployment insurance, a law to ensure the autonomy of the Central Bank, qualified industrial zones, tender law, employment incentive law, to name a few. The government also changed 34 articles of the Constitution to widen fundamental rights and freedoms, and did this with the approval of all the parties in parliament. Turkey became a candidate country to the European Union (without any political preconditions and with equal treatment as all other candidate countries). Three major EU harmonisation packages were passed during this government, including the most comprehensive package of 3 August 2002, which included the removal of the death penalty and many changes in fundamental rights and freedoms. An economic crisis which resulted from long overdue problems from previous governments caused a drop in the currency in February 2001. But 2 months later, the government passed a series of very comprehensive economic reforms which enabled the high growth of 2002–2007.

Because the DSP opposed the US invasion of Iraq, a campaign to divide the DSP and force a change of government in Turkey was started. When its coalition partner MHP called for early elections in the summer of 2002, it faced the electorate before the results of economic reforms could be felt. As a result, none of the coalition parties were able to pass the 10% national threshold.

In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the CHP won 178 seats in parliament, and only it and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) entered parliament. The CHP became the main opposition party again and Turkey's second largest party. It had begun the long road to recovery.

However, that this had very little to do with voters supporting CHP. Many were former DSP supporters who were angry at the economic crisis that many blamed on the Ecevit government. Also, many DSP and ANAP supporters left these parties for AKP as did many MHP and Fazilet (now Saadet party) members.

Many on the left were very critical of the leadership of CHP, especially Deniz Baykal, who they complained was stifling the party of young blood by turning away the young who turn either to apathy or even vote for the AKP. While the AKP boasted a young leadership who have lived through many of the difficulties of many in Turkey, the CHP were seen as an 'old guard' that did not represent modern Turkey. The leftists also are very critical of the party's continuous opposition to the removal of Article 301 of the Turkish penal code; which caused people to be prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness" including Nobel Prize winner author Orhan Pamuk, Elif Şafak, and the conviction of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, its attitude towards the minorities in Turkey, as well as its Cyprus policy.

Despite this recovery, since the dramatic 2002 general election, the CHP has been racked by internal power struggles, and has been outclassed by the AKP government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the local elections of 2004, its overall share of the vote held, largely through mopping up anti-Erdoğan votes among former supporters of smaller left-wing and secular right-wing parties, but was badly beaten by the AKP across the country, losing former strongholds such as Antalya.

Much of the blame was put on CHP leader Deniz Baykal. After the local elections, the CHP was racked by defections of several key members of the party all claiming a lack of democratic structure within the party and the increasingly authoritarian way in which Deniz Baykal ran the party. Even those who supported Deniz Baykal would admit that the party would be much more successful with a different leader.[ citation needed ]

In October 2004, the New Turkey Party (Yeni Türkiye Partisi, YTP) merged into the CHP. Lately, Baykal was bidding for fusing the DSP and the CHP together under one roof, namely CHP, under his leadership.

In order to present a strong alternative to the AKP in the 2007 general election, the DSP showed a sacrifice and entered the elections together with the CHP. The CHP and DSP alliance received 20.9% of the votes and entered the parliament with 112 MPs.

In the 2009 local elections, the party tried to attract conservative and devout Muslims to the party by allowing women who wear the hijab to become party members including promises to introduce Koran courses if requested in every district. [19] However, the allowing of women wearing hijab into the party received a severe blow when a normally non-headscarved member of CHP (Kıymet Özgür) committed a provocation by wearing a black hijab and tried to get into an election bus in Istanbul. The incident raised questions about the CHP's initiatives in favor of religious freedoms. [20] The new initiatives introduced were surprising inside and outside the party, and with military leaders.

On 10 May 2010, Deniz Baykal announced his resignation as leader of the Republican People's Party after a clandestinely made video tape of him, sitting on a bed where a woman is also eminent (identified as Nesrin Baytok, his former private secretary and a member of parliament) was leaked to the media. [21]

Although Baykal has stepped down from the chair of his party leadership, he is still active in politics for CHP as a parliament member.

Kılıçdaroğlu period (2010–present)

Kemal Kilicdaroglu Kemal Kilicdaroglu.png
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

On 22 May 2010 the convention of the Republican People's Party elected Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to be the new party leader. Kılıçdaroğlu set about immediately to reform the party and many critics of the day commented positively how the Kılıçdaroğlu period would see the People's Republican Party move more to the left as in the time of Bülent Ecevit, in contrast to the Baykal period which had moved CHP more closer to centre politics to such an extent that left-wing intellectuals had started to claim how the CHP was becoming a right-wing party.[ citation needed ] Kılıçdaroğlu saw an immense rise in popularity and support throughout the country and for the first time in twenty years, the party became directly active in the eastern parts of the country.[ citation needed ] In late 2010, the party held a Great Election where the Party Leader's cabinet was reformed. It marked the complete end of the 'Baykal - Önder Sav' era where all opposition to the changing policy of the CHP was swiftly removed.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's efforts seemed to work since elections held on 12 June 2011, CHP was able to increase the number & the percentage of voters to 11,155,972 and 25.98% respectively.

Yet, in 2012, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu faced an attempted rebellion by the old guard in his own party, reportedly supported by Baykal.[ citation needed ] However, the attempt failed and at the party congress held in 2012, Kılıçdaroğlu remained the CHP leader. This paved the way for him into following his plans for what he considers renovating the party to becoming a social democratic party in the European context.[ citation needed ]

Muharrem İnce, a member of parliament for Yalova, was announced as the presidential candidate of the Republican People's Party (CHP) on 3 May 2018. On the following day, 4 May, party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu formally proclaimed the CHP's support for İnce. Shortly thereafter, the CHP began preparations for the campaign season, launching the production of campaign material and merchandise. It was revealed in early May that İnce's campaign would adopt the slogan “Türkiye’ye güvence Muharrem İnce”, roughly translating to "Muharrem İnce, an assurance to Turkey", [22] and that it would be kicked off with an election rally in his home city of Yalova on 5 May. [23]


The CHP usually draw much of their support from secular and liberally religious voters with a stable electorate from voters of big cities, coastal regions, the professional middle-class, and minority groups such as Alevis. According to The Economist , "to the dismay of its own leadership the CHP’s core constituency, as well as most of its MPs, are Alevis." [4] However, the party's leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, is also an Alevi himself. [24]

The party's strongholds are the Aegean region (İzmir, Aydın, Muğla), the Thrace region (Edirne, Kırklareli, Tekirdağ) the Eastern black sea region (Ardahan and Artvin) and the Anatolian college town of Eskişehir.

Historical leaders

PortraitTerm in Office
1 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Gazi1933.jpg 9 September 192310 November 1938
2 İsmet İnönü
Inonu Ismet.jpg 26 December 19388 May 1972
3 Bülent Ecevit
Bulent Ecevit (cropped).jpg 14 May 197230 October 1980
Party closed down following the 12 September 1980 coup d'état
4 Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg 9 September 199218 February 1995
5 Hikmet Çetin
Hikmet Cetin.jpg 18 February 19959 September 1995
(4) Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg 9 September 199523 May 1999
6 Altan Öymen
Altan Oymen (cropped).jpg 23 May 199930 September 2000
(4) Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg 30 September 200010 May 2010
7 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Kemal Kilicdaroglu cropped.png 22 May 2010Incumbent

Election results

General elections

General election record of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
     0–10%       10–20%       20–30%       30–40%       40–50%       50–60%       60–70%
1946 Inonu Ismet.jpg
İsmet İnönü
397 / 503 (Decrease2.svg 73)1st
Majority government
1950 3,176,56169 / 492 (Decrease2.svg 328)39.45%2nd
Main opposition
1954 3,161,69631 / 537 (Decrease2.svg 38)35.36%
Decrease2.svg 4.09  pp
Main opposition
1957 3,753,136178 / 602 (Increase2.svg 147)41.09%
Increase2.svg 4.73  pp
Main opposition
1961 3,724,752173 / 450 (Decrease2.svg 5)36.74%
Decrease2.svg 4.35  pp
Minority government
1965 2,675,785134 / 450 (Decrease2.svg 39)28.75%
Decrease2.svg 7.99  pp
Main opposition
1969 2,487,163143 / 450 (Increase2.svg 9)27.37%
Decrease2.svg 1.38  pp
Main opposition
1973 Bulent Ecevit (cropped).jpg
Bülent Ecevit
3,570,583185 / 450 (Increase2.svg 42)33.30%
Increase2.svg 5.93  pp
Minority government
5 June 1977 Turkish general election, 1977 pie chart.png
213 / 450 (Increase2.svg 28)
Increase2.svg 8.09  pp
Minority government
CHP 1997 general election.png
6 November 1983 Party closed following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état and succeeded by the Populist Party (1983–85), the Social Democracy Party (1983-85) and the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) in 1985 after the latter two parties merged. The CHP was re-established in 1992 by dissident SHP members after banned political parties were allowed to re-establish, with the SHP and CHP merging in 1995.
29 October 1987
20 October 1991
24 December 1995 Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg
Deniz Baykal
Turkish general election, 1995 pie chart.png
49 / 550 (Increase2.svg 49)
Increase2.svg 10.71  pp
In opposition
CHP 1995 general election.png
18 April 1999 Turkish general election, 1999 pie chart.png
0 / 550 (Decrease2.svg 49)
Decrease2.svg 2.00  pp
Not in parliament
CHP 1999 general election.png
3 November 2002 Turkish general election, 2002 pie chart.png
Parliament of Turkey 2002.svg
178 / 550 (Increase2.svg 178)
Increase2.svg 10.68  pp
Main opposition
CHP 2002 general election.png
22 July 2007 Turkish general election, 2007 pie chart.png
Parliament of Turkey 2007.svg
112 / 550 (Decrease2.svg 66)
Increase2.svg 1.50  pp
Main opposition
CHP 2007 general election.png
12 June 2011 Kemal Kilicdaroglu cropped.png
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Turkish general election, 2011 pie chart.png
Parliament of Turkey 2011.svg
135 / 550 (Increase2.svg 23)
Increase2.svg 5.10  pp
Main opposition
CHP 2011 general election.png
7 June 2015 Turkish general election, June 2015 pie chart.png
Parliament of Turkey June 2015.svg
132 / 550 (Decrease2.svg 3)
Decrease2.svg 1.03  pp
Main opposition
Turkish general election CHP votes by province.png
1 November 2015 Turkish general election, November 2015 pie chart.png
Parliament of Turkey November 2015.svg
134 / 550 (Increase2.svg 2)
Increase2.svg 0.37 pp
Main opposition
Turkish general election, November 2015 (CHP).png
24 June 2018 2018SecimPastaGrafik.png
Parliament of Turkey 2018 Current.svg
146 / 600 (Increase2.svg 12)
Decrease2.svg 2.68 pp
Main opposition

Presidential elections

Presidential election record of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
10 August 2014 Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (1) (cropped).jpg
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu
Cross-party with MHP
15,587,72038.44%2nd 2014 Turkish Presidential Election-Ihsanoglu.PNG
24 June 2018 Muharrem Ince (cropped).jpg
Muharrem İnce
15,340,32130.64%2nd Turkish presidential election 2018.png

Senate elections

Election dateParty leaderNumber of votes receivedPercentage of votesNumber of senators
1961 İsmet İnönü 3,734,28536,1%36
1964 İsmet İnönü 1,125,78340,8%19
1966 İsmet İnönü 877,06629,6%13
1968 İsmet İnönü 899,44427,1%13
1973 Bülent Ecevit 1,412,05133,6%25
1975 Bülent Ecevit 2,281,47043,4%25
1977 Bülent Ecevit 2,037,87542,4%28
1979 Bülent Ecevit 1,378,22429,1%12

Local elections

Election dateParty leaderProvincial council votesPercentage of votesNumber of municipalities
1963 İsmet İnönü 3,458,97236,22%No data
1968 İsmet İnönü 2,542,64427,90%No data
1973 Bülent Ecevit 3,708,68737,09%No data
1977 Bülent Ecevit 5,161,42641,73%No data
1994 Deniz Baykal 1,297,3714,61%64
1999 Deniz Baykal 3,487,48311,08%373
2004 Deniz Baykal 5,848,18018,38%392
2009 Deniz Baykal 9,233,66223,11%499 [25]
2014 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 10,938,26226,34%232
2019 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 12,625,34629,36%251

See also

Related Research Articles

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