Bülent Ecevit

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Mustafa Bülent Ecevit
Bülent Ecevit-Davos 2000.jpg
Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
11 January 1999 – 18 November 2002
Preceded by Mesut Yılmaz
Succeeded by Abdullah Gül
In office
5 January 1978 – 12 November 1979
Preceded by Süleyman Demirel
Succeeded by Süleyman Demirel
In office
21 June 1977 – 21 July 1977
Preceded by Süleyman Demirel
Succeeded by Süleyman Demirel
In office
26 January 1974 – 17 November 1974
Preceded by Naim Talu
Succeeded by Sadi Irmak
Leader of CHP
In office
14 May 1972 – 30 October 1980
Preceded by İsmet İnönü
Succeeded by Deniz Baykal
Leader of DSP
In office
15 January 1989 – 25 July 2004
Preceded by Necdet Karababa (acting)
Succeeded by Zeki Sezer
In office
13 September 1987 – 7 March 1988
Preceded by Rahşan Ecevit
Succeeded by Necdet Karababa
Personal details
Born (1925-05-28)28 May 1925
Istanbul, Turkey
Died 5 November 2006(2006-11-05) (aged 80)
Ankara, Turkey
Political party DSP, CHP
Spouse(s) Rahşan Ecevit
Alma mater Robert College
School of Oriental and African Studies

Mustafa Bülent Ecevit (Turkish: [byˈlænt edʒeˈvit]; 28 May 1925, Istanbul – 5 November 2006, Ankara) was a Turkish politician, poet, writer, scholar, and journalist, who was the leader of Republican People's Party (CHP), later of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and five-time Prime Minister of Turkey.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Istanbul to a middle-class family that lived in an apartment with Ecevits grandfather Rupen Sarian Ecevit, Ecevit's father was Sayat Caglicubukcu Ecevit who was born in Kastamonu and was a professor of Turkish History at Ankara University. Later Sayat started his political life as CHP's Kastamonu deputy between 1943 and 1950. His mother, Fatma Nazlı, was born in Istanbul and was among the first women in Turkey to paint professionally.[1] In 1944, Ecevit graduated from Robert College in Istanbul and started working as a translator at the General Directorate for Press and Publication (Basın Yayın Genel Müdürlüğü). In 1946, shortly after marrying his classmate Rahşan Aral in 1946, he moved to London to work for Turkey's press attaché. During his stay in London, he studied Bengali, Sanskrit and Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, but did not graduate.[2] He later went to the United States in the mid–1950s on a State Department fellowship, and worked at two newspapers in North Carolina.[3][4] Ecevit said "Maybe I could have a Kurdish ancestry."[5][6]

Political life[edit]

President Jimmy Carter with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit at the White House, 31 May 1978.

Ecevit was elected into the Turkish parliament for the first time in 1957. He was a Member of the Parliament between 1960 and 1961 during the 26th, 27th and 28th governments. Ecevit served as the Minister of Labour between 1961 and 1965, contributing to the acceptance of the right to strike and collective agreement. In 1966 he became the secretary general of the Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP). In 1971 he resigned from the post as a protest to the party decision to support the transitional government established by a military intervention.

In 1972, he succeeded İsmet İnönü as the leader of the party and became Prime Minister in a coalition with the National Salvation Party of Necmettin Erbakan.(37th government of Turkey) This government is known for ordering the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July 1974. So "Conqueror of Cyprus" (Turkish: "Kıbrıs Fatihi") was nicknamed from Turkish people at this after successful operation.

Bülent Ecevit recalls that he learned for the first time of the existence of Operation Gladio, a secret "stay-behind" NATO army, in 1974, and has suspected "Counter-Guerrilla", the Turkish branch of Gladio, of being responsible for 1 May 1977 Taksim Square massacre in Istanbul, during which snipers shot on a protest rally of 500,000 citizens, killing 38 and injuring hundreds. CHP defeated AP at the 1977 general elections by gathering 41% of the votes. This victory was just after the events of 1 May and the victory of CHP was seen as the answer of the left wing of Turkish politics. But with 213 seats out of 450 Ecevit couldn't receive the vote of confidence (See 40th government of Turkey). In 1978 Ecevit formed his third government (42nd government of Turkey) But after a defeat in by- elections in 1979, he resigned.

Following the 1980 coup led by General Kenan Evren, Ecevit was incarcerated and suspended from active politics for life along with the other political leaders of the time. A referendum in 1987 lifted his ban from politics, and he became the chairman of the Democratic Left Party (Turkish: Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP), inheriting the position from his wife, Rahşan Ecevit. His party failed to enter the National Assembly at the 1987 national elections, and in spite of passing the electoral barrier in 1991 managed to win only 7 seats in parliament. DSP's fortunes changed after the 1995 elections, when the party won 75 seats (out of 550). After two short-lived governments (formed by Mesut Yılmaz and Necmettin Erbakan, respectively), Ecevit became a deputy prime minister in the last government of Mesut Yılmaz. In 1998–99 he was briefly the caretaker Prime Minister in the run-up to the 1999 general elections (56th government of Turkey). In those elections – also helped by the fact that Abdullah Öcalan, head of the separatist (PKK) was apprehended in Kenya and flown to Turkey during this period – Ecevit's party gained the largest number of seats, leading to Ecevit's final term as Prime Minister in a coalition with the Motherland Party (Turkish: Anavatan Partisi, ANAP) of Mesut Yılmaz and the Nationalist Movement Party (Turkish: Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP) of Devlet Bahçeli.

Ecevit's government undertook a number of reforms aimed at stabilizing the Turkish economy in preparation for accession negotiations with the European Union. However, the short-term economic pain brought on by the reforms caused rifts within his coalition and party, and eventually forced new elections in 2002. Ecevit, at this time visibly frail, was unsuccessful in leading his party back into the National Assembly. Ecevit subsequently retired from active politics in 2004.

Bülent Ecevit was not only a politician but also a poet and a writer. He translated works by Rabindranath Tagore, T. S. Eliot, and Bernard Lewis into Turkish. He also translated the great ancient Sanskrit poem, Bhagvad Gita, into Turkish language (see, e.g., this article). Ecevit, who also studied at the American Robert College, one of the most prestigious high schools in Istanbul, was successful in these literary endeavors despite never having graduated from a university, a fact that also prevented him from ever running for the Presidency of the Turkish Republic.

Ecevit's tomb at the State Cemetery in Ankara, Turkey.

Ecevit was hospitalized in Ankara and placed in a medically induced coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on 18 May 2006, which struck him after he attended a friends funeral. His doctors confirmed that he died on 5 November 2006, at 20:40 (UTC) in Ankara, due to respiratory failure without regaining consciousness. He was buried in the Turkish State Cemetery (Turkish: Devlet Mezarlığı) in Ankara with a state funeral on 11 November 2006. The funeral was attended by approximately 1,000,000 people from all 81 provinces along with some Ukraine politics.[7]



  • Işığı Taştan Oydum (I Carved Light Out of Stone) (1978)
  • El Ele Büyüttük Sevgiyi (We Raised Love Hand in Hand) (1997)


  • Ortanın Solu (Left of the Center) (1966)
  • Bu Düzen Değişmelidir (This Order Should Change) (1968)
  • Atatürk ve Devrimcilik (Atatürk and Revolutionism) (1970)
  • Kurultaylar ve Sonrası (Party Congresses and After) (1972)
  • Demokratik Sol ve Hükümet Bunalımı (Democratic Left and Government Crisis) (1974)
  • Demokratik Solda Temel Kavramlar ve Sorunlar (Basic Definitions and Problems in Democratic Left) (1975)
  • Dış Politika (Foreign Policy) (1975)
  • Dünya-Türkiye-Milliyetçilik (World-Turkey-Nationalism) (1975)
  • Toplum-Siyaset-Yönetim (Society-Politics-Government) (1975)
  • İşçi-Köylü El Ele (Workers and Peasants Hand in Hand) (1976)
  • Türkiye / 1965–1975 (Turkey / 1965–1975) (1976)
  • Umut Yılı: 1977 (Year of Hope: 1977) (1977)


  1. ^ Kinzer, Stephen (6 November 2006). "Bülent Ecevit, a Political Survivor Who Turned Turkey Toward the West, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved 6 November 2006. 
  2. ^ "Siyasetin Şairi Karaoğlan". Hürriyet. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Aras Erdoğan, Umut Ecevit, Kesit, 2006, p. 19.
  4. ^ Altan Tan, Kürt Sorunu, Timaş, 2009, p. 493.
  5. ^ Ercan Yavuz, "Kürt kökenli olabilirim" at the Wayback Machine (archived August 22, 2008), Akşam, 4 August 2004. (Turkish)
  6. ^ Mahmut Çetin, Çinli Hoca'nın torunu Ecevit, Emre Yayınları, 2006, p. 18.
  7. ^ Cevizoğlu, Hulki (11 November 2006), Kanaltürk Evening News.[verification needed]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by

İsmet İnönü
Leader of the Republican's People Party (CHP)
14 May 1972 – 29 Oct 1980
Succeeded by

1980 Military coup and later Deniz Baykal
Preceded by
Rahşan Ecevit
Leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP)
13 Sep 1987–1988
Succeeded by
Necdet Karababa
Preceded by
Necdet Karababa
Leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP)
1989–25 Jul 2004
Succeeded by
Zeki Sezer
Political offices
Preceded by
Naim Talu
Prime Minister of Turkey
26 Jan 1974 – 17 Nov 1974
Succeeded by
Sadi Irmak
Preceded by
Süleyman Demirel
Prime Minister of Turkey
21 Jun 1977 – 21 Jul 1977
Succeeded by
Süleyman Demirel
Preceded by
Süleyman Demirel
Prime Minister of Turkey
5 Jan 1978 – 12 Nov 1979
Succeeded by
Süleyman Demirel
Preceded by
Tansu Çiller
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
30 Jun 1997 – 11 Jan 1999
Succeeded by
Hüsamettin Özkan
Hikmet Uluğbay
Preceded by
Mesut Yılmaz
Prime Minister of Turkey
11 Jan 1999 – 19 Nov 2002
Succeeded by
Abdullah Gül
Preceded by
Kemal Satır
Secretary general of the
Republican People's Party

Succeeded by
Şeref Bakşık