Republican People's Party

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Republican People's Party
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi
AbbreviationCHP
LeaderKemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Secretary-GeneralSelin Sayek Böke
SpokespersonFaik Öztrak
FounderMustafa Kemal Atatürk
Founded
  • 7 September 1919 (1919-09-07)
    (as a resistance organisation)
  • 9 September 1923 (1923-09-09)
    (as a political party)
  • 9 September 1992 (1992-09-09)
    (re-establishment)
Preceded byCommittee of Union and Progress[1][2][3]
Association for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia
HeadquartersAnadolu Bulvarı No: 12,
Çankaya, Ankara
Student wingHalk-Lis
Youth wingCHP Youth
Women's wingCHP Kadın Kolları
NGOAtatürkist Thought Association (unofficial)
SODEV (unofficial)
Membership (2021)Increase 1,257,110[4]
IdeologySocial democracy[5]
Kemalism[6]
Pro-Europeanism[7][8]
Political positionCentre-left[9]
National affiliationNation Alliance
European affiliationParty of European Socialists (associate)
International affiliationProgressive Alliance[10]
Socialist International
Colours  Red
SloganPeople First, Unity First, Turkey First! (Önce insan, önce birlik, önce Türkiye!)
Grand National Assembly
135 / 600
Metropolitan municipalities
11 / 30
District municipalities
241 / 1,351
Provincial councilors
184 / 1,251
Municipal Assemblies
4,613 / 20,498
Election symbol
The Six Arrows
Party flag
Flag of the Republican People's Party
Website
www.chp.org.tr Edit this at Wikidata

The Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi pronounced [dʒumhuːɾiˈjet haɫk 'paɾtisi] (About this soundlisten), abbreviated CHP [dʒehepe]) is the oldest political party in Turkey,[11] founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president and founder of Modern Turkey. The party is also cited as “the founding party of modern Turkey".[12] The CHP describes itself as "a modern social democratic party, which is faithful to the founding principles and values of the Republic of Turkey".[13][14] Its logo consists of the Six Arrows, which represent the foundational principles of Kemalism: republicanism, nationalism, statism, populism, laicism, and reformism. It is currently the main opposition in the Grand National Assembly against the ruling conservative AKP, with 136 MPs.

The political party was established during the Sivas Congress in 1919 as a union of resistance groups and remnants of the Committee of Union and Progress against the Greek invasion of Anatolia, known as the Association for the Defence of Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia. The union represented Turkish people as a unified front during the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923), led by Mustafa Kemal. On 9 September 1923, the "People's Party” declared itself to be a political organisation and on 29 October 1923, announced the establishment of the Turkish Republic, with Mustafa Kemal as its first president. In 1924, the People's Party renamed itself the "Republican People's Party" (CHP) as Turkey moved into its one-party period. During the one-party period, the CHP was the apparatus of implementing far reaching political, cultural, social, and economic reforms in the country. After World War II, Atatürk's successor, İsmet İnönü, allowed for multi-party elections, and the party initiated a peaceful transition of power after losing the 1950 election, ending the one-party period and starting Turkey's multi-party period.

During the 1960s, social-democracy also became a core part of the party's ideology through its "Left of Center" slogan. The CHP, along with all other political parties of the time, was suspended for a brief period by the military junta of 1980. An inheritor party which still participates in Turkish democratic life as a separate party was established in 1984 by the name of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), created by the CHP's former leader, Bülent Ecevit. The CHP was re-established with its original name on 9 September 1992, with the participation of a majority of its members from the pre-1980 period. Though Deniz Baykal reestablished the party with a more centrist outlook, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has returned the party back to its traditional center-left position when he took over in 2011.

It is a founding party[15] of the Nation Alliance, a coalition consisting of opposition parties Good Party, Felicity Party,[16] and Democrat Party against the ruling AKP and their People’s Alliance.[17] In addition, CHP is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES), a member of the Socialist International[18] and the Progressive Alliance. Many politicians of CHP have declared their support for LGBT rights[citation needed] and the feminist movement in Turkey. The party continues its Pro-European policies and commitment to NATO.

The party's base includes the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar workers, retired generals, government bureaucrats, academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals, labour unions such as DİSK, and Alevis.[19] The party's strongholds are the west of the Aegean Region (İzmir, Aydın, Muğla), the northwest of the Marmara Region (Turkish Thrace; Edirne, Kırklareli, Tekirdağ, Çanakkale), the east of the Black Sea Region (Ardahan and Artvin), and the Anatolian college town of Eskişehir.[20]

History[edit]

The Republican People's Party has its origins in the resistance organizations, known as Defence of Rights Associations, created in the immediate aftermath of World War I. In the Sivas Congress, Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his colleagues united the Defence of Rights Associations into the Association for the Defence of National Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia (Anadolu ve Rumeli Müdâfaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti) (ADRAR), and ordered elections in the Ottoman Empire to elect representatives associated with the organization to the Commmittee of Representation. The Committee of Representation soon moved to Ankara and formed the Grand National Assembly as a counter parliament from the Ottoman government in Istanbul. Grand National Assembly forces militarily defeated Greece, France, and Armenia in the Turkish War of Independence, overthrew the Ottoman government, and abolished the monarchy. After the 1923 elections, ADRAR was transformed into a political party called People's Party (Halk Fırkası). Because of the unanimity of the new parliament, the republic was proclaimed, the Treaty of Lausanne was accepted, and the Caliphate was abolished the next year.[21]

However in 1924, opposition to the People's Party founded the Progressive Republican Party (PRP). Reacting to the foundation of the PRP, Mustafa Kemal's People's Party changed its name to Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) (CHP). The life of the PRP was short. The PRP faced allegations of involvement with the Sheikh Said rebellion and of assassinating Mustafa Kemal and was closed on 5 June by the government. From 1925 until 1946, Turkey was under one-party rule, with one interruption; another brief experiment of opposition politics through the formation of the Liberal Republican Party.

In the period of 1925–1930, the Republican People's Party introduced sweeping reforms transforming Turkey into a modern state. In the period of 1930–1939, the party transformed itself and tried to broaden its ideology (for instance, the 'Six Arrows' were adopted in 1930).[22] In the parties third convention, it clarified their approach towards the religious minorities of the Christians and the Jews, accepting them as real Turks as long as they adhere to the national ideal and use the Turkish language.[23] On November 12 1938, the day after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's death, his ally İsmet İnönü was elected the second president[24] and assumed leadership of the CHP. İnönü's presidency saw the annexation of the Hatay State and the establishment of Village Institutes. İnönü adopted a policy of neutrality despite attempts by the Allies and Axis powers to bring Turkey into World War II. The party was associated with anti-communism.[25][26][27]

In the aftermath of World War II, İnönü called for a multi-party general election in 1946 - the first multi-party elections in the country's history. The Motion with Four Signatures resulted in the resignation of some CHP members who then founded the Democrat Party (DP), which challenged the party in the election. The result was a victory for the CHP, which won 395 of the 465 seats, amid criticism that the election did not live up to democratic standards. However, four years later, a more free and fair general election was held in 1950 that led to the CHP losing power to the DP. İnönü presided over a peaceful transition of power. The 1950 elections marked the end of the CHP's last majority government. The party has not been able to regain a parliamentary majority in any subsequent election since.[28]

Due to the winner-take-all system in place during the 1950s, the DP achieved landslide victories in elections that were reasonably close, meaning the CHP was in opposition for 10 years. In the ninth CHP Congress in 1951, the youth branch and the women's branch of the CHP were formed. In 1953, the establishment of trade unions and vocational chambers was proposed, and the right to strike for workers was added to the party program. The Democrat Party was abolished after the 1960 military coup, and Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged in the İmralı island prison. Right-wing parties have since continuously attacked the CHP for their perceived involvement of the party in the hanging of Adnan Menderes.[29]

With electoral law reform putting in place proportional representation, CHP emerged as the first party in the general election of 1961, and formed a grand coalition with the Justice Party, a successor to the Democrat Party. This was the first coalition government in Turkey, which lasted for just a year. İnönü was able to form a couple more governments with other parties until the 1965 election. Bülent Ecevit, an up and coming personality in the party, contributed to the party adopting the Left of Centre (Ortanın solu) programme for that election.[30] İnönü remained as opposition leader and the leader of the CHP until 8 May 1972 when he was overthrown as party leader by Ecevit in a party congress. Ecevit took on a distinct left wing role in politics and, although remaining staunchly nationalist, tried to implement socialism into the ideology of CHP. Support of the party increased when Ecevit became prime minister in 1973 and invaded Cyprus. The 1970s featured a constant back and forth between the CHP and Justice Party, as well as intense political violence. This ended in a military coup in 1980, which also banned all political parties.[31]

After the 1980 military coup, pre-1980 politicians were imprisoned and banned from politics, and the name "Republican People's Party" and the abbreviation CHP was also banned. Until 1998, Turkey was ruled by the centre-right Motherland Party (ANAP) and the True Path Party (DYP), unofficial successors of the Democrat Party and the Justice Party. CHP followers also established successor parties. By 1985, Erdal İnönü, İsmet İnönü's son, consolidated two successor parties to form the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP), while the Democratic Left Party (Turkish: Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP) was formed by Rahşan Ecevit, Bülent Ecevit's wife (Bülent Ecevit took over the DSP in 1987). After the ban on pre-1980 politicians was lifted in 1987, Deniz Baykal refounded the Republican People's Party (CHP) in 1992 and SHP merged with the party in 1995. However Ecevit's DSP remained separate and to this day hasn't merged with the reformed CHP.[32] Baykal is acknowledged to have steered the party to the center in opposition to Ecevit's DSP, the other main Kemalist party of the time. From 1991 to 1996, SHP and then CHP were in coalition governments with the DYP. In 1998, after the resignation of the Welfare-DYP coalition following the 28 February "post-modern coup", CHP supported a coalition government of ANAP, DSP, and the Democratic Turkey Party (DTP). However, due to Türkbank scandal the CHP withdrew its support from the coalition and helped bring down the government with a "no confidence" vote. Ecevit's DSP formed an interim government, during which PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in Kenya. Therefore, in the elections of 1999, the DSP benefited massively in the polls at the expense of CHP and the party failed to pass the 10% threshold (8.7% vote), winning no seats in parliament.

In the 2002 parliamentary election, the CHP came back with 20% of the vote but 32% of the seats in parliament, as only it and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) received above the 10% threshold to enter parliament. With the collapse of DSP, CHP became Turkey's second largest party and the main opposition party. However, since the dramatic 2002 election, the CHP has been racked by internal power struggles, and has been outclassed by the AKP governments of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Many on the left were very critical of the leadership of CHP, especially Baykal, who they complained was stifling the party of young blood by turning away the young who turn either to apathy or even vote for the AKP. Between 2002 and 2010, Turkey held three general elections and two local elections, all of which the CHP received between 18-23% of the vote. On 10 May 2010, Deniz Baykal announced his resignation as leader of the Republican People's Party after a clandestinely made video tape of him, sitting on a bed with a woman was leaked to the media.[33] On 22 May 2010 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was elected to be the new party leader, and returned the party back to its traditional center-left position established by Bülent Ecevit. However even with Kılıçdaroğlu at the helm, after four general elections the CHP has still not won an election, receiving between only 22 and 26% of the vote in parliamentary elections. CHP and MHP's joint candidate for the 2014 presidential election Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu lost to Erdoğan with only 38% of the vote.

Party's performance in the 2019 Turkish local elections by province.

In the 2018 general election CHP, Good Party, Felicity, and Democrat Party established the Nation Alliance to challenge the AKP and MHP's People's Alliance in the 2018 Parliamentary elections. Though CHP's vote was reduced to 22%, strategic voting for the other parties yielded the alliance 33% of the vote. Their candidate for president: Muharrem İnce, received only 30% of the vote. The Nation Alliance was reestablished for the 2019 local elections, which saw great gains for the CHP, capturing almost 30% of the electorate and the municipal mayoralties of Istanbul and Ankara. Some consider their new respective mayors Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş possible candidates for the upcoming 2023 presidential election. Kılıçdaroğlu and Good Party's leader Meral Akşener continue to closely cooperate as opposition parties, and the two parties are gaining in the polls due to the ongoing economic crisis and government mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electorate[edit]

Party headquarters in Ankara, showing a banner urging a "no" vote in the 2017 referendum on establishing a presidential system.

The Republican People's Party is a centre-left political party that draws its support from White Turks: professional middle-class secular and liberally religious voters. It has traditional ties to the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar workers, retired generals, government bureaucrats, academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals and labour unions such as DİSK.[19] The distance between the party administration and many leftist grassroots, especially left-oriented Kurdish voters, contributed to the party's shift away from the political left,[34] which the party is returning to. However leftists still criticize the party's continuous opposition to the removal of Article 301 of the Turkish penal code; which caused people to be prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness" including Nobel Prize winner author Orhan Pamuk, Elif Şafak, and the conviction of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, its attitude towards the minorities in Turkey, as well as its Cyprus policy.

The CHP draws much of their support from voters of big cities and coastal regions. The party's strongholds are the west of the Aegean Region (İzmir, Aydın, Muğla), the northwest of the Marmara Region (Turkish Thrace; Edirne, Kırklareli, Tekirdağ, Çanakkale), the east of the Black Sea Region (Ardahan and Artvin), and the Anatolian college town of Eskişehir.

The party also appeals to minority groups such as Alevis. According to The Economist, "to the dismay of its own leadership the CHP’s core constituency, as well as most of its MPs, are Alevis."[35] The party's leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, is also an Alevi himself.[36]

The party holds a significant position in the Socialist International, Progressive Alliance and is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists. In 2014 the CHP urged the Socialist International to accept the Republican Turkish Party of Northern Cyprus as an full member.[37]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey and the current economic crisis[38] polls indicate the party and its alliance has been seeing increasing support.[39][40][41][42] especially amongst Generation Z.[43] Generation Z will be first-time voters and will make up a high percentage of voters in the next general elections.[15][20]

Internal caucuses[edit]

CHP has several internal caucuses.[44]

  • Kılıçdaroğlu group (Kılıçdaroğlu grubu), a caucus that is in favor of Nation Alliance and general secretaryhood of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
  • 10 December Movement (10 Aralık Hareketi), a caucus founded by former DİSK secretary Süleyman Çelebi to create an alternative "new party". It defends social democracy and federalism, while opposing Kemalism and unitarism within the party. They have included ÖDP, SHP, DSP and independent left candidates in their tickets.[45]
  • İnce group (İnce grubu), a caucus that endorsed Muharrem İnce's presidential candidacy and opposition within the party. It includes Kemalist and nationalist circles. In 2021 Muharrem İnce broke away from the CHP, and founded the Homeland Party.
  • Baykal group (Baykal grubu), a caucus that is founded by names loyal to Deniz Baykal. It lost its significance due to Baykal's stagnating health.
  • Left Wing for the Future (Gelecek İçin Sol Kanat), a left-populist caucus that aims to build "new left politics" within the party. It includes social democrat and democratic socialist groups within, and integrates ideas like participatory democracy, anti-militarism and anti-imperialism to mainstream republicanism. On July 1, 2021, We for the Future group decided to merge with another internal caucus, the ‘Left Wing’. The name of the new group has been announced as 'Left Wing for the Future'.[46]
  • Youth group (Gençler grubu), the caucus that is founded by young central committee members to target the youth. It pushes a centrist agenda within the party.

Historical leaders[edit]

No. Name
(Born–Died)
Portrait Term in Office
1 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
(1881–1938)
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk 9 September 1923 10 November 1938
2 İsmet İnönü
(1884–1973)
İsmet İnönü 26 December 1938 8 May 1972
3 Bülent Ecevit
(1925–2006)
Bülent Ecevit 14 May 1972 30 October 1980
Party closed down following the 12 September 1980 coup d'état
4 Deniz Baykal
(1938–)
Deniz Baykal 9 September 1992 18 February 1995
5 Hikmet Çetin
(1937–)
Hikmet Çetin 18 February 1995 9 September 1995
(4) Deniz Baykal
(1938–)
Deniz Baykal 9 September 1995 23 May 1999
6 Altan Öymen
(1932–)
Altan Öymen 23 May 1999 30 September 2000
(4) Deniz Baykal
(1938–)
Deniz Baykal 30 September 2000 10 May 2010
7 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
(1948–)
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 22 May 2010 Incumbent

Election results[edit]

General elections[edit]

General election record of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
     0–10%         10–20%         20–30%         30–40%         40–50%         50–60%         60–70%
Election Leader Vote Seats Changes Result Outcome Map
1946 İsmet İnönü
İsmet İnönü
397 / 503
Decrease 73 1st
Majority government
1950 3,176,561
69 / 492
Decrease 328 39.45% 2nd
Main opposition
1954 3,161,696
31 / 537
Decrease 38 35.36%
Decrease 4.09 pp
2nd
Main opposition
1957 3,753,136
178 / 602
Increase147 41.09%
Increase 4.73 pp
2nd
Main opposition
1961 3,724,752
173 / 450
Decrease 5 36.74%
Decrease 4.35 pp
1st
Minority government
1965 2,675,785
134 / 450
Decrease 39 28.75%
Decrease 7.99 pp
2nd
Main opposition
1969 2,487,163
143 / 450
Increase 9 27.37%
Decrease 1.38 pp
2nd
Main opposition
1973 Bülent Ecevit
Bülent Ecevit
3,570,583
185 / 450
Increase 42 33.30%
Increase 5.93 pp
1st
Minority government
5 June 1977 Turkish general election, 1977 pie chart.png
6,136,171
213 / 450
Increase 28 41.38%
Increase 8.09 pp
1st
Minority government
CHP 1997 general election.png
6 November 1983 Party closed following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état and succeeded by the Populist Party (1983–85), the Social Democracy Party (1983-85) and the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) in 1985 after the latter two parties merged. The CHP was re-established in 1992 by dissident SHP members after banned political parties were allowed to re-establish, with the SHP and CHP merging in 1995.
29 October 1987
20 October 1991
24 December 1995 Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal
Turkish general election, 1995 pie chart.png
3,011,076
49 / 550
Increase 49 10.71%
Increase 10.71 pp
5th
In opposition
CHP 1995 general election.png
18 April 1999 Turkish general election, 1999 pie chart.png
2,716,094
0 / 550
Decrease 49 8.71%
Decrease 2.00 pp
6th
Not in parliament
CHP 1999 general election.png
3 November 2002 Turkish general election, 2002 pie chart.png
6,113,352
178 / 550
Increase 178 19.39%
Increase 10.68 pp
2nd
Main opposition
CHP 2002 general election.png
22 July 2007 Turkish general election, 2007 pie chart.png
7,317,808
112 / 550
Decrease 66 20.88%
Increase 1.50 pp
2nd
Main opposition
CHP 2007 general election.png
12 June 2011 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Turkish general election, 2011 pie chart.png
11,155,972
135 / 550
Increase 23 25.98%
Increase 5.10 pp
2nd
Main opposition
CHP 2011 general election.png
7 June 2015 Turkish general election, June 2015 pie chart.png
11,518,139
132 / 550
Decrease 3 24.95%
Decrease 1.03 pp
2nd
Main opposition
Turkish general election CHP votes by province.png
1 November 2015 Turkish general election, November 2015 pie chart.png
12,111,812
134 / 550
Increase 2 25.32%
Increase 0.37 pp
2nd
Main opposition
Turkish general election, November 2015 (CHP).png
24 June 2018 2018SeçimPastaGrafik.png
11,348,899
146 / 600
Increase 12 22.64%
Decrease 2.68 pp
2nd
Main opposition
Chp2018.png

Presidential elections[edit]

Presidential election record of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
Election Candidate Votes % Outcome Map
10 August 2014 Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (1) (cropped).jpg
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu
Cross-party with MHP
15,587,720 38.44% 2nd 2014 Turkish Presidential Election-İhsanoğlu.PNG
24 June 2018 Muharrem İnce (cropped).jpg
Muharrem İnce
15,340,321 30.64% 2nd Turkish presidential election 2018.png

Senate elections[edit]

Election date Party leader Number of votes received Percentage of votes Number of senators
1961 İsmet İnönü 3,734,285 36,1% 36
1964 İsmet İnönü 1,125,783 40,8% 19
1966 İsmet İnönü 877,066 29,6% 13
1968 İsmet İnönü 899,444 27,1% 13
1973 Bülent Ecevit 1,412,051 33,6% 25
1975 Bülent Ecevit 2,281,470 43,4% 25
1977 Bülent Ecevit 2,037,875 42,4% 28
1979 Bülent Ecevit 1,378,224 29,1% 12

Local elections[edit]

Election date Party leader Provincial council votes Percentage of votes Number of municipalities
1963 İsmet İnönü 3,458,972 36,22% No data
1968 İsmet İnönü 2,542,644 27,90% No data
1973 Bülent Ecevit 3,708,687 37,09% No data
1977 Bülent Ecevit 5,161,426 41,73% No data
1994 Deniz Baykal 1,297,371 4,61% 64
1999 Deniz Baykal 3,487,483 11,08% 373
2004 Deniz Baykal 5,848,180 18,38% 392
2009 Deniz Baykal 9,233,662 23,11% 499[47]
2014 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 10,938,262 26,34% 232
2019 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 12,625,346 29,36% 241

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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