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SODEP is the abbreviation of Social Democracy Party (Turkish: Sosyal Demokrasi Partisi) of Turkey which was one of the two main parties of Turkey in early 1980s but later on merged with another party.
After the coup of 1980, all political parties were closed by the military rule (so called National Security Council or Turkish: MGK) regardless of their political views, on 16 October 1981. For approximately one and half year, there were no political parties. Finally, MGK decided to allow the formation of new parties with severe restrictions. According to instructions, the new parties were not allowed to use the names of the former parties and senior politicians were not allowed to be the charter member of the new parties. Furthermore, MGK had the power of rejecting the founders. (This power was called veto power by the newspapers.) This gave MGK a privilege to limit the number of parties that would attend the coming parliamentary elections.
Formation of SODEP
SODEP was planned by the followers of ex Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP)) which is usually credited as the founder of Turkish republic in 1923. But there were many parties on the onset of formation and it would be very difficult to reach to voters without pronouncing the names of the former parties and politicians. So, the founders asked Professor Erdal İnönü to be the chairman of the party. Erdal İnönü was a world famous physics professor but he had never been in politics. Nevertheless, he was the son of late İsmet İnönü, the second president of Turkey and his surname was enough to create a sensation. However, İnönü was reluctant and it was difficult to persuade him. Finally, on 26 May 1983 he founded SODEP . Some of the other charter members were Türkan Akyol, Oktay Ekşi, Cahit Külebi, Cahit Talas.
Disappointment in 1983 elections
21 charter members of SODEP, including İnönü, were rejected on 23 June by MGK. The shock was great. But the party was not closed and the founders decided to continue with new charter members. The new chairman was Cezmi Kartay whose name had not been rejected. But due to ensuing vetos, the party was unable to qualify to enter the parliamentary elections (like most of the other parties) which is held on 6 November 1983. In this elections, most of ex CHP votes were canalized to People's Party (Turkish: Halkçı Parti,HP). HP, with 30.5% of all votes, became the main opposition party. (ANAP being the first party)
Rebirth in 1984 elections
After 1983 elections, MGK lost its former veto power and, Erdal İnönü became the chairman of the party for the second time, on 18 December (just 42 days after 1983 elections.) SODEP quickly qualified for the next elections, which was local elections on 21 March. In this election, while SODEP became the second party with 23.4% of all votes, HP received only a modest 8.8%. It was clear that the choice of ex CHP voters was SODEP. (Nevertheless, HP was still the main opposition party in the parliament.)
Merge with HP
There was a considerable public pressure on both parties to merge with. Erdal İnönü and Aydın Güven Gürkan, the new leader of HP met and agreed on a plan to merge the parties. On 3 November 1985, SODEP merged with HP. İnönü agreed to give up his seat during fusion. The new party formed by this fusion was named as Social Democrat People's Party (Turkish: Sosyal Demokrat Halkçı Parti) with the abbreviation SHP which resembled that of CHP and a party flag with 6 arrows which resembled that of CHP. (The abbreviation SHP should not be confused with the same abbreviation used by another party after 2002)
Ideology of the party
CHP had six principles; laicite, statism, populism, reformism, nationalism and republicanism (see Kemalism). But after 1960, CHP had also been identified as a social democratic party. SODEP being a party in the same course, was also a social democratic party with a strong emphasis on laicite.
- Türkiye’nin 75 yılı,Tempo yayıncılık,İstanbul, 1998
- Erdal İnönü: Anılar ve Düşünceler cilt 1, pp 234-237, İdea İletişim, İstanbul,1996
- Turkish parliament page (Turkish)
- Erdal İnönü: Anılar ve Düşünceler cilt 2, pp 327-342, İdea İletişim, İstanbul,1998