People's Party (Syria)
|Preceded by||National Bloc|
|Politics of Syria
People's Party (Arabic: حزب الشعب Ḥizb Al-Sha'ab) was a Syrian political party that was active during the 1950s and the early 1960s. The party was established in 1948 as the main opposition party to the National Party. Both parties have their roots in the National Bloc, a national coalition that played an important role in the Syrian struggle against the French mandate.
The National Bloc split in 1947 as a result of regional and personal rivalries between its leaders. Former members from Syria's northern cities (Homs, Hama and Aleppo) established the People's Party. The party represented northern and central Syrian business and land owning interests in favor of economic union with Iraq. The party was backed by the Aleppine aristocracy who believed that Aleppo's traditional role as the trade center for the Fertile Crescent could only be restored through a federation with Hashemite Iraq. The party aimed to break the Damascene elite's dominance over Syrian politics. Nazim al-Kudsi, Rushdi al-Kikhya and Abd al-Wahhab Hawmad founded the party in 1948.
The People's Party also enjoyed the support of al-Atassi clan of Homs. Adnan al-Atassi, son of former president Hashim al-Atassi, was one of the founding fathers of the party. Hashim al-Atassi never became an official member, nonetheless he supported the party through his son and his nephew Faydi al-Atassi, who ended up holding several ministerial posts including the foreign ministry at various times. Their support secured a strong base for the party in Homs.
The party enjoyed its peak of influence in the period between 1949—1951 under the military regimes of Sami al-Hinnawi and Adib Shishakli. After receiving a majority of the votes in the 1949 parliamentary elections, the party clashed with Shishakli over the control of the police force. Shishakli launched a coup d'état on November 28, 1951, and arrested leading members of the party. Shishakli arrested the party founders Nazim Kudsi and Rushdi al-Kikhya and placed ex-president Hashem al-Attasi under house arrest. The party was among the forces that plotted Shishakli's overthrow two years later. They regained some of their influence in the cabinet and the plurality of votes in the 1954 parliamentary elections and ended up with the largest political party in parliament.
The party was forced to dissolve, along with all political parties in Syria, during the union years with Egypt. Gamal Abdel Nasser prohibited all political parties. It came back to power after Syria seceded from the union in 1961. The party's leader, al-Kudsi, was elected president after the landslide victory in the 1961 parliamentary elections. He served in that capacity until the March 1963 coup d'état that brought the Ba'ath Party to power.
In recent years there have been discussions about reviving the party in some form, following the liberalization of requirements for membership in the National Progressive Front, but this has not materialized.
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- Moubayed, Sami M. (2002), Damascus between democracy and dictatorship, University Press of America, ISBN 978-0-7618-1744-4
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