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Bülent Ecevit

(1925—2006)


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(b. 28 May 1925, d. 11 May 2006).

Prime Minister of Turkey 1974, 1977, 1978–9, 1998–2002 Born in Istanbul, where he studied, in 1953 the writer joined the left‐of‐centre Republican People's Party, and between 1961–5 served as Minister of Labour under the party leader, Inönü. He became the party's general secretary in 1966, and in 1971–2 toppled Inönü, whom he accused of compliance with the military regime, to become party chairman himself. Nevertheless, he endorsed and took responsibility for the military occupation of north‐east Cyprus in 1974. After the 1980 army coup he was banned from active politics for ten years, though the ban was lifted in 1987. He became chairman of the Democratic Left Party, founded by his wife two years earlier, which eventually managed to get into parliament in 1991. It gained 14.65 per cent of the popular vote in 1995. His leadership experience became an asset in the political crisis of 1998–9, after the ruling Welfare Party had been banned by the Constitutional Court. He formed an interim government, and won the ensuing parliamentary elections of 1999, in which his Democratic Left Party increased its representation from 76 to 136 seats. Ecevit cooperated well with the military, which he supported in the fight against Islamic fundamentalists as well as the separatists in Kurdistan. Exhausted by pursuing fundamental political and institutional reform in a fragile political coalition, his party began to fall apart in the face of his refusal to heed growing calls for his resignation. As ill‐health contributed to the erosion of his political authority, he was swept from office in the 2002 elections by Erdogan.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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