Turkey in the 1950's

Turkey in the 1950’s

The process already underway of progressive liberalization of internal politics began in the immediate postwar period. They marked the stages of this process: the constitution of a new conservative anti-Kemalist party in favor of the Islamic religion and religious education (1947), the repeal of martial law (1948), which had lasted for a long time, and finally the new “democratic elections” “of May 1950, which brought Celâl Bayar, leader of the democratic party, to the presidency of the Republic and Adnan Menderes to the government. The political line of Atatürk and Inönü was generally followed, however the anti-religious struggle was attenuated and the liberal democratic aspects accentuated. The Turkey thus moved towards a multi-party system. The Millet Party or National Party, in favor of the revival of the Islamic religion (which in June 1953 held its congress in Ankara with anti-Kemalist demonstrations), it was dissolved in January 1954; but it immediately reconstituted itself as a nationalist Republican Party, and managed to gain some success in the elections of May 1954, coming third after the Democratic Party, which was the winner, and after the Republican People’s Party (Kemalist). To maintain power, the Democratic Party approached the anti-Kemalist oppositions, favoring the rekindling of the religious spirit, so much so that a pro-Islamic wing was formed within it. Atatürk’s political legacy was then taken up by the Republican People’s Party of Inonü, on which the government tried in vain to impose itself with harsh police measures. This did not happen without a crisis in the Democratic Party, whose most liberal exponents, opposed to Prime Minister Menderes, founded (December 1955) the Freedom Party, represented in parliament by 29 deputies. The government, accentuating the fight against the opposition, passed a new law restricting the freedom of the press and another that prohibited political meetings and demonstrations (June 1956) and removed parliamentary immunity from four opposition deputies (July 1956). In this climate the elections of October 1957 were called, won by the Democratic Party with 424 seats, followed by the People’s Republican Party with 178 seats. Celâl Bayar was re-elected president of the Republic and Adnan Menderes formed a new government. In the decade 1948-58, Turkey adopted a liberal economic policy, but with little success, despite the aid of the USA and not a few commercial treaties (the one with the Bonn government of particular importance). The budget remained burdened by huge military spending, the monetary circulation inflated. The economic conditions of the population were, on the whole, very difficult.

According to Topschoolsintheusa, the restrictions imposed by the Menderes government resulted in a military conspiracy that exploded on May 27, 1960; the Menderes government was overthrown and power assumed by a National Unity Committee made up of 38 officers and chaired by General Cemal Gürsel. The previous rulers were confined and subjected to a trial which ended on September 15, 1961 with 15 death sentences, of which those were carried out against Menderes, the former foreign minister F. Zorlu, and the former finance minister A. Polatkan. On January 6, 1961, a Constituent Assembly was established, chosen by designation from above, which drew up a new Constitution on the model of the most advanced ones in Western Europe. The new Constitution was approved by popular referendum on July 9, 1961. The elections held on October 15, 1961, however, marked an unexpected success for the Justice Party, heir to the dissolved Democratic Party of Menderes. In fact, if in the National Assembly the People’s Republican Party obtained 173 seats, against 158 ​​for the Justice Party, 65 for the New Turkey Party and 54 for the National Peasant Party, in the Senate the Justice Party obtained 70 seats, the People’s Republican 36, the Party of New Turkey 28 and the national peasant party 16. Faced with these results, there was a stiffening of the military, which forced the formation of a national coalition government and the election of Gürsel to the presidency of the Republic (October 26, 1961).

In foreign policy, Turkey has always held a pro-Western attitude (she was admitted to NATO on February 18, 1952) and in particular pro-American, which brought her the support of the USA against Soviet claims and huge economic aid. and military, especially from 1947 to 1950. Turkey, as a member of the UN, participated with a notable and militant expeditionary force in the Korean conflict (1950-51). On February 28, 1953 he entered into a pact of collaboration with Yugoslavia and Greece, which was then perfected in the alliance treaty signed on August 9, 1954 and ratified on February 16, 1955. This alliance had a difficult life, given that Turkey and Greece pursued a political pro-Western, while Yugoslavia remained neutralist; but more than any other it was the Cyprus question that created difficulties. Since 1954, in fact, the Greek Cypriots, supported by the government of Athens, asked for the annexation of Cyprus to Greece, while the Turkish government in support of the Turkish Cypriot minority, asked for the partition of the island. The contrasts were accentuated following the Anglo-Greek-Turkish conference in London (September 1955), which was followed by violent anti-Greek street demonstrations in Istanbul, so much so that at the end of 1955 Greek-Turkish relations seemed to turn for the worse. Once the Cyprus question had been brought to a peaceful solution, relations between Turkey and Greece improved, also thanks to the pacifying diplomatic action carried out by the English government. The Turkish government also pursued a policy of collaboration with the other pro-Western states in the Middle East, and on April 24, 1954 entered into a mutual assistance pact with Pakistan.

In 1960 the Cyprus question was finally resolved, with the declaration of independence of the island (16 August), which crowned the happy outcome of the negotiations undertaken following the independence agreement, signed in London by the representatives of the British, Greek and Turkish governments on February 19, 1959. The internal upheavals of 1960-61 did not affect Turkish foreign policy.

Turkey in the 1950's