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The History of the Turkish Republic
The 1990s

 

Upon the retirement of President Kenan Evren, the leader of the 1980 coup, Ozal was elected President, leaving parliament in the hands of the feckless Yildirim Akbulut, and then, in 1991, to Mesut Yilmaz. Yilmaz redoubled Turkey's economic profile and renewed its orientation toward Europe. But political instability followed as the host of banned politicians reentered politics, fracturing the vote, and the Motherland Party became increasingly corrupt. Ozal died of a heart attack in 1993 and Suleyman Demirel was elected president. The 1995 elections brought a short-lived coalition between Yilmaz's Motherland Party and The True Path Party, now with Tansu Ciller at the helm. Ciller then turned to the Welfare Party (RP), headed by Necmettin Erbakan, the former leader of the National Salvation Party, allowing Erbakan to enter the Prime Ministry. In 1998, the military, citing his government's support for religious policies deemed dangerous to Turkey's secular nature, sent a memorandum to Erbakan requesting that he resign, which he did. Shortly thereafter, the RP was banned and re-born under the name Virtue Party (FP). A new government was formed by ANAP and Ecevit's Democratic Left Party (DSP) supported from the outside by the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP), led by Deniz Baykal. Under this government, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish separatist organisation PKK, was captured in Kenya. He was tried for treason and sentenced to death, but he has since sent the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The DSP won big in the 1999 elections on the strength of the Öcalan abduction. Second place went, surprisingly, to the Nationalist Action Party (MHP). These two parties, alongside Yilmaz's ANAP formed a government. The popular perception was that it would fail; these were, after all, the inheritors of the two groups that were fighting so violently in the streets during the 1970s. However, the government was somewhat effective, if not harmonious, bringing about much-needed economic reform, instituting human rights legislation, and bringing Turkey ever closer to the European Union. A series of economic shocks led to new elections in 2002, bringing into power the religiously conservative Justice and Development Party of former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

 

 

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