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The History of the Turkish Republic
After Atatürk


Atatürk's successor after his death on November 10, 1938 was Ismet Inönü. When all its western neighbours were under Axis occupation during World War II, Turkey signed a peace treaty with Germany and officially remained neutral until near the end of war. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN, and in February 1945 it declared war on Germany and Japan. This was largely symbolic, as no Turkish troops engaged in battle. Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952.

By the influences of liberal intellectuals and religious fanatics the multiparty government returned by 1950 elections with the election of the Democratic Party. The government was very popular at first, relaxing the restrictions on Islam and presiding over a booming economy. In the later half of the decade, however, the economy began to fail and the government introduced censorship laws limiting dissent. The government became plagued by high inflation and a massive debt. It also attempted to use the army to suppress its political rivals. The army balked at this, however, and on May 27, 1960 General Cemal Gürsel led a military coup d'état removing President Celal Bayar and Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, the second of whom was executed. Unlike in most countries where military juntas take over the military stood by its promise and returned the country to civilian control in October of 1961.

The political system that emerged in the wake of the 1960 coup was a fractured one, producing a series of unstable government coalitions in parliament alternating between the True Path Party of Suleyman Demirel on the right and the Republican People's Party of Ismet Inonu and Bulent Ecevit on the left. A coup was staged in 1971, ousting a fractured parliament under the Prime Minsitry of Demirel. Under Prime Minister Ecevit in coalition with the religious National Salvation Party, Turkey carried out an operation in Cyprus in order to prevent a coup intended to unify the island with Greece, creating a conflict that to this day is still not resolved. The fractured political scene and poor economy led to mounting violence between ultranationalists and communists in the streets of Turkey's cities. A paralyzed parliament and increasing death-toll prompted a coup in 1980, once again on Demirel's watch. Within two years, the military had returned the government to civilian hands, but had banned Demirel, Ecevit, and a number of other politicians from politics for life.

Out of the rubble of the previous political system came one-party governance under Turgut Ozal's Motherland Party, which combined a globally-oriented economic program with conservative social values. Under Ozal, the economy boomed, converting towns like Gazi Antep from small provincial capitals into mid-sized economic boomtowns.


The History of the Turkish Republic The 1990s >>>


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