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Çarşamba, Temmuz 24, 2024

The Election of 1950 in Turkey

The general election of 1950 is a significant point for Turkish Democracy. Because The power or the government changed by the Turkish People without being bloodless. This moment has not seen like that in the world yet. Republican People’s Party who founded The Republic of  Turkey and also developped by the revolutions that being led by Ataturk (especially first of all, The new republic is an unitary nation- state that aims Modern Turkish Top Identity. Second, Secularism was added to The Constitution of 1924. Thirdly, The adoption of Latin Alphabet. Fourtly, Equality of the sexes…) brought democracy to Turkey. This is also a crucial revolution. RPP accepted the risk of leaving the power. The importance or  the value, the right of  this situation must be given by all of us rather than other important factors or dynamics that are both interior and exterior  in the process of transition to democracy.

This studying aims to examine the election of 1950 with the historical process.

The Historical Process of the Multi- Party System in Turkey

After Turkish War of Independence(1919-1923)  Ottoman Empire Era came to the end and The Republic of Turkey was established on  29 October 1923 by Turkish Grand National Assembly. With Ataturk’s Reforms, the philosophy of  this new republic was created. Turkish People have sovereignty unconditionally in Turkey after the abolition of the sultanate and caliphate.

“Republican People’s Party was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on 9 September 1923 with the name “People’s Party”. The name of the party was changed to ‘Republican People’s Party’ in 1935. In 1927, CHP adopted “Republicanism”, “Populism”, “Nationalism”, and “Secularism” as the four main principles of the Party. “Etatism” and “Revolutionism” were introduced in 1935, bringing the number of principles to six. The six arrows depicted in the Party logo refer to these six principles.”[1]

Turkey was reigned by the single- party regime. Republican People’s Party ruled Turkey together with the adoption of the 1924 Constitution for 27 years untill 1950. Then the experiences of the multi- party system happened between 1924 and 1925. The Progressive Republican Party that supported liberalism was established. But that process was a short- lived. After Sheikh Said Rebellion that was a Kurdish and Religious. After that Liberal Republican Party was established by Fethi Okyar under parliament upon Ataturk’s request to control and criticize the government. However the opposition that do not like Ataturk’s reforms and especially secular life, law and education gathered in LRP as well as LRP wanted to struggle for the power. It wanted to come to power. But that situation was dangerous for regime. Thus LRP dissolved itself.

These experiences did not arise with movements and presses that came from society. Two experiences occurred upon Ataturk’s request to control and criticize the government. Because Turkey did not become industrialized. The social classes had not been strong. The Bureaucracy -Intelligentsia that advocated modernization  a dominant class. The bourgeoise was weak. By Etatism, it was wanted to create, wanted to strengthen. Nevertheless, the peasants that had poor life were the wide part of Turkish Society. Social opposition was just unpleased part againts reforms. So social opposition was gethered in these two parties.

After Ataturk’s death in 1938, Ismet Inonu came to power. He was elected as the RPP Chair and Second President of The Republic Of Turkey.

World War II begun in the world. Therefore, there was an economic crisis in Turkey. The peasants that were a wide part of the society became angry to the government. The state- supported Bourgeoisie and intelligentsia – bureaucracy were  the pillars of the regime. The peasants also were not pleased against these classes. As to Kemal Karpat: “By buying agricultural produce at low prices and selling State products to the peasants at exorbitant rates, since such prices were generally  determined by the Government, this state- supported bourgeoisie earned the permanent animosity of the peasantry and small craftsmen”[2]

“ On the other hand, the majority of the intelligentsia, indoctrinated chiefly with nationalist secularist ideas, remained  in the  few big cities, dependent on government jobs and ignorant of the nature of happenings in the countryside. They approved the reforms needed to bring about modernization and, at the same tim, ignored their economic and social aspects. Through lack of contacts, they came to view the peasants as inherently opposed to change and reform, regardless of  the fact that in reality the villagers  were carrying the  economic burden of these reforms without  enjoying or understanding their practical benefits. For the peasants, reform  came to mean additional power for the  dominant groups and also an interference in their own way of life. The gulf between town and country became ever wider.”[3]

Yes, unfortunately  the gulf between town and country became ever wider. Because of misunderstanding  Ataturk’s Reforms and Ideas by politicians, intelligentsia and other effective actors as well as the negative  conditions of World War II,  increased the reactions against single- party regime that was identical with state.

World War II made state supported bourgeoisie become strong, in particular because of inflation in the days of war this class was developping. That’s why this class wanted to share the power and also to tell something in order to save their interests. They did not trust single- party regime. Because, RRP published “Wealth Tax which was a Turkish Tax levied on the wealthy citizens of Turkey in 1942.”[4] Moreover, land Reform and The nationalization of The Forest law were brought in 1945.  Those laws were  making these rich classes fear. Thus they wanted to multi- party system to prevent these laws like this.

Interior dynamics which i mentioned above  contributed to transition to democracy. Nevertheless, Exterior Dynamics were significant developments to transite to the multi- party system. After World War II,   USSR was the winning party with USA and Capitalist Block . Germany had lost the war with its allies. Turkey was fearing for USSR that became super power  in the world.  Turkey was alarmed. Because Soviet Union  threatened Turkey concerning Bosphorus, Balkans and The East of Turkey. USA decided to help its allies by Truman Doctrine, but USA wanted allies which being governed by democracy to assist by Truman Doctrine. USA was a reliable ally againts Soviet Union. San Francisco Conference would begin in 1945 to found United Nation.

The president Ismet Inonu National Chief chosed The West Block because of the threat of Soviet Union.  As well as Turkey wanted to be westerner. Since 1923 The main goal of Turkey have been to become westernized. Westernization process still continues in Turkey.

Democratization and liberalization progresses were  accelerated in Turkey after World War II. At the beginning of this process Inonu was thinking of an  opposition party which would be control party, suitable to regime and would not be extreme left and right ideology and compete for  the power. Vatan, Tan and Tasvir’i Efkâr Newspapers continued to publish again after removing ban. When land reform and budget negotiations continued in the parliament, the four members of Republican People’s Party resigned after Memorandum of the Four that contents liberal requests in respect with liberalization. The four member were Celal Bayar who was a prime minister of Ataturk before, Adnan Menderes who was a landlord in Aydin Province , Refik Koraltan and Fuat Koprulu. Then they founded Democrat Party that advocated liberalism  on  7 January 1946. Before DP, by Nuri Demirag who is a businessman established National Development Party that is the first opposition party in the multi- party system in Turkey.

NDP did not affect Turkish People in despite of DP. Social opposition including businessmen, liberals, socialist, religious persons, the peasants and especially landlords supported  DP.

Election of 1945

General Election were held on 21 July 1945. Normally election was after a year. RRP took back the date of election to prevent the rise of DP. This election was done with direct election, open vote, secret count. “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.”[5] Whereas DP gained 61 seats and independents gained 4 seats.

DP criticised the ruling party concerning election system, safety. DP continued to oppose the government to change election system. The presiden Ismet Inonu published declaration of 12 July that mentions that DP is a legal party and the neutrality of the presidency. Finally on 16 February 1950 The new election law accepted by parliament. This law based on majority system was contenting direct election, equal and secret vote and open count. It also would provide safety.

Election of 1950

General elections were held on 14 May 1950.  Democrat Party, Republican People’s Party, Nation Party and National Development Party (just Istanbul) participated to the general elections. DP won this election. According to the result of the election, DP obtained 4.241.393 votes and 52,68 %  out of total 7, 953, 055 and gained 408 seats of the 487 seats. On the other hand RPP obtained 3.176.561  votes 39,45 % and gained 69 seats. NP obtained 250,414 votes 3,11 % and gained 1 seat. Independents obtained 383.282 votes 4,76 % and gained 9 seats.[6]

DP came to power on 22 May 1950. Celal Bayar was elected The Third President of The Republic of Turkey by parliament. Adnan Menderes was The Prime Minister of Turkey. Refik Koraltan elected as the Chairman of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

DP was the first party in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir and many provinces. RRP as a second party in election just showed its power over the East of Turkey.

“View after the election in 1950”
“View after the election in 1950” [7]
DP’s poster that used in the election company with TIME
DP’s poster that used in the election company with TIME

As a conclusion, The power changed by election that Turkish people decide who the power would be. The change occured without being spilt blood in the election of 1950. Republican People’s Party gave the power to DP respectfully. This situation is remarkable experience around the world. Multi Party System settled in the Turkish constitutions.





[1] Who we are?, Party History, 23.05.2014,  http://www.chp.org.tr/en/?page_id=67

[2] Karpat, Kemal H., Recent Political Developments in Turkey and Their Social Background, Address at Chatham House, 1962, s.309.

[3] A.g.e.s,310

[4] Varlık Vergisi, 23.05.2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varl%C4%B1k_Vergisi

[5] Turkish general Election, 1946, Erişim tarihi:23.05.2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_general_election,_1946

[6] Türkiye Cumhutiyeti Milletvekili Genel  Seçimleri, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi, http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/develop/owa/secim_sorgu.secimdeki_partiler?p_secim_yili=1950, Erişim tarihi:23.05.2014

[7] Varlık Vergisi, 23.05.2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varl%C4%B1k_Vergisi

[8] Who we are?, Party History, 23.05.2014, http://www.chp.org.tr/en/?page_id=67

[9] Göktepe, Cihat, The Menderes Periond(1950- 1960), Erişim: 23.05.2014, http://www.turkishweekly.net/article/60/the-menderes-period-1950-1960.html

[10] Tachau, Frank, Turkish Political Parties and Elections: Half A Century of Multi Party Democracy, Turkish Studies, Vol. 1 No.1(Spring 2000), pp,128- 148, Published by Franc Cass, London



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