The Republican People's Party ( tr|Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi , abbreviated CHP ) is a social-democratic
Kemalist political party
. It is the oldest political party in the country, and is currently the main opposition
in the Grand National Assembly
against the AKP
. The CHP describes itself as "a modern social democratic party, which is faithful to the founding principles and values of the Republic of Turkey". The party is cited as "the founding party of modern Turkey". Its logo consists of the Six Arrows, which represent the foundational principles of Kemalism
, and reformism
. Many politicians of CHP have declared their support for LGBT rights
and the feminist movement
in Turkey. The party continues its Pro
policies. In addition, CHP is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists
(PES) and a member of the Socialist International
and the Progressive Alliance
The political party
was established during the Sivas Congress
in 1919 as a union of resistance groups
against the Greek invasion of Anatolia
. The union represented Turkish people
as a unified front during the Turkish War of Independence
(1919–1923). 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. On 10 November 1924, the People's Party renamed itself the "Republican People's Party" (CHP) as Turkey moved into a one-party period
During the one-party period, the CHP became the major political organisation of a one-party state
. However, CHP faced two opposition parties during this period, both established upon the request of CHP leader and founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
, in efforts to kick-start a multi-party democracy in Turkey. The first one was the Progressive Republican Party
established in 1924 by famous generals such as Kazım Karabekir
and Ali Fuat Cebesoy
, who both served during the Turkish War of Independence
, and the second was the Liberal Republican Party
founded by Ali Fethi Okyar
in 1930. Both parties, however, were banned within a few months of their establishment by the state for veering too closely to Islamism
. This experience was followed by the founding of the National Development Party
by Nuri Demirağ
The current structure of the party was established within the transition to the multi-party period
. After World War II
, the leader of the CHP, İsmet İnönü
, introduced democratic elections to Turkish society. There was widespread dissatisfaction with the CHP in the four years after its victory at the first multi-party general election. The party lost the following elections in 1950
, and Celâl Bayar
replaced İnönü as president.
During the interim "multi-party periods" in between the military coups of 1960
, and 1980
, the CHP was regarded as being social-democratic
(a member of Socialist International
), civic nationalist
. 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 former leader of the CHP, 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.
Atatürk period (1923–1938)
During the Turkish War of Independence, 1919–1923, the parliament
was composed of different types of deputies. To have harmony among his followers, Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues formed the Association for the Defence of National Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia
(''Anadolu ve Rumeli Müdâfaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti''). The opposition to Mustafa Kemal or to the commissars elected by the parliament united under the name of "second group for Defence of the Law", often shortened simply to "second group
" (the followers of Mustafa Kemal were later called "first group"). Although the second group was always in the minority, it could create active opposition within the parliament. In January 1923, Mustafa Kemal announced that first group would be transformed into a party named Halk Fırkası (People's Party). In May 1923, the parliament called a bill for new elections, most probably because Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues wanted to guarantee the Treaty of Lausanne's
approval by a more unanimous parliament. The People's Party was formally founded only after the 1923 elections. The 1923 elections were definitely the victory of the forthcoming party, because of its leader's reputation after the military victory of the War of Independence and the liquidation of the second group. Because of the unanimity of this second parliament, the republic was proclaimed, the Treaty of Lausanne
was accepted and the Caliphate
However, in 1924, after the short-period of one-party rule, many of Mustafa Kemal's ex-colleagues, for many reasons (their growing loss of power, their opposition to the short period of a one-party rule's revolutionary activities, etc.), including Rauf Orbay
, Kâzım Karabekir
, Ali Fuat Cebesoy
and many others founded an opposition party called Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası
(Progressive Republican Party). After the foundation of an opposition party, the People's Party changed its name to "Republican People's Party". The life of the Progressive Republican Party was short. In 1925, the Sheikh Said rebellion
was sparked in the east of Turkey. The party faced allegations of involvement with rebellion and assassination attempts against Mustafa Kemal and was closed on 5 June by the government. As a consequence, Karabekir and many members of the party were court-martialled and imprisoned. Karabekir was released after being found innocent. From 1925 until 1946, Turkey was under one-party rule, with one interruption; Serbest Fırka
(Liberal Party), which had been founded by Atatürk and was led by one of his closest friends, Ali Fethi Okyar
. This party was closed down by its founders shortly after the İzmir meeting, which was a huge demonstration against the Republican People's Party. In the period of 1925–1930, the Republican People's Party introduced measures 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).
The day after Atatürk's death, his ally İsmet İnönü
was elected the second president and assumed leadership of the CHP. During the general nationwide congress of the CHP on 26 December 1938, İsmet İnönü was elected as "everlasting CHP leader". The delegates awarded Atatürk the title "eternal chief", and awarded İnönü the title "national chief". The party was associated with anti-communism
İnönü period (1938–1972)
Soon after being elected as president, İsmet İnönü
adopted a policy of neutrality despite attempts by the Allies
and Axis powers
to bring Turkey into World War II
Beginning of Turkey's multiparty period
A general election
was held in Turkey on 21 July 1946 - the first multi-party elections in the country's history. The result was a victory for the Republican People's Party, which won 395 of the 465 seats, amid criticism that the election did not live up to democratic standards. However, four years later, Turkey's first free general election was held on 14 May 1950
and led to the CHP losing power to the Democrat Party
(DP) led by Celal Bayar
. İnönü presided over a peaceful transition of power
, after which Bayar became the third President of Turkey
while Adnan Menderes
became Prime Minister
. 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.
During the 1940s, the CHP established Village Institutes
, which were part of an enlightenment project developed in order to reduce the gap that existed between urban and rural areas. Various scientists, writers, teachers, and doctors graduated from Village Institutes; and supported Turkey's modernization efforts, before the program was ended by Adnan Menderes
regards the Village Institutes project as exemplary and has placed its curriculum under protection.
On 26 November 1951, during the ninth CHP Congress, the youth branch
and the women's branch of the CHP were formed. On 22 June 1953, the establishment of trade unions
and vocational chambers was proposed, and the right to strike
for workers was added to the party program. On 2 May 1954, the CHP lost a second consecutive general election
to the DP, gaining only 31 seats with 35.4% of the total vote. The DP captured 505 seats with 57.6% vote, due to the winner-take-all
system in place. Following this defeat, the CHP began intensifying its opposition
tactics and increased its share of the votes to 41%, gaining 178 seats, in the 27 October 1957
elections. The DP gained 424 seats with 47.9% vote amid growing concerns about the DP's authoritarian tendencies in government.
Following the military coup of 1960
, a "National Unity Committee
" was formed by higher-ranking soldiers led by Cemal Gürsel
. The National Unity Committee abolished the Democratic Party and started trials to punish Democratic Party leaders for their alleged dictatorial regime. As a result, on 16 and 17 September 1961, ousted Prime Minister Adnan Menderes
, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu
, and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan
were hanged in the İmralı
island prison. President Celal Bayar was forgiven due to his old age, but sentenced to life imprisonment. CHP leader İsmet İnönü sent a letter to Gürsel raising concerns regarding the legal process, calling on the death sentences of the ousted government ministers to be commuted in order to calm social tensions following the coup. Nevertheless, right-wing parties have since continuously attacked the CHP for their perceived involvement of the party in the hanging of Adnan Menderes.
In 1961, the Justice Party
(AP) was established, claiming to be the successor to the Democratic Party. In the meantime, the National Unity Committee established an interim House of Representatives instead of the Grand National Assembly
, in order to prepare a new constitution for Turkey. In the new constitution, the Constitutional Court
was to be established, to prevent the government from violating the constitution. The 1961 constitution
is widely accepted as to be the most liberal and democratic constitution in Turkish history. Also, the winner-take-all electoral system was immediately abolished, and a proportional representation
system was introduced. The new constitution brought Turkey a bicameral
parliament, composed of the Senate of the Republic
as the upper chamber, and the National Assembly as the lower chamber. The National Unity Committee chairman General Cemal Gürsel was elected as the fourth president of Turkey.
The CHP emerged as the first party in the general election of 1961
, gaining 173 seats with the 36.7% of the vote. The AP gained 158 seats with 34.8% of the vote. CHP leader İsmet İnönü
formed a grand coalition
with the Justice Party (AP) and became Prime Minister for a third and final time. This was the first coalition government
in Turkey, lasting until 1962 when a split between the CHP and the AP on the issue of amnesty for former DP members resulted in the government's dissolution. İnönü formed a three-party coalition government
with the New Turkey Party
(YTP) and the Republican Villagers Nation Party
(CKMP), though the loss of support for the two junior parties in the 1963 local elections
resulted in the government being disbanded in 1963. İnönü was forced to form a fragile minority government
supported by Independents
, though the government was able to survive a vote of confidence due to outside support from the YTP. The government was overthrown in February 1965 after the opposition parties in parliament united to block the CHP's budget, causing İnönü to resign as Prime Minister. The 29th government of Turkey
was formed by Independent MP Suat Hayri Ürgüplü
, who had the support of the AP, YTP, CKMP and the Nation Party
(MP). Ürgüplü's government presided over the 1965 general election
, in which the AP won a parliamentary majority. Since 1965, party adopted new Left of Centre
(Ortanın solu) programme switching to centre-left politics
İnönü remained as opposition leader and the leader of the CHP until 8 May 1972, losing a second general election in 1969
to the AP. He was succeeded as leader by Bülent Ecevit
and died a year later in 1973. He is the most recent President of Turkey to have served as an active member of the CHP during his term.
Ecevit period (1972–1980)
In 1971, the army brought down the AP government of Süleyman Demirel
. The secretary general of CHP Bülent Ecevit
protested against military intervention and resigned from his post. He also criticized İnönü for not criticizing the intervention. By his quick and energetic reactions, he gained support from the intellectuals and in 1972, he succeeded İsmet İnönü as the leader of the party. Following some interim governments, CHP won 1973 elections with 33% of the vote and formed a coalition with the National Salvation Party
(MSP) of Necmettin Erbakan
. Bülent Ecevit began to take on a distinct left wing
role in politics and, although remaining staunchly nationalist, tried to implement socialism
into the ideology of CHP. The support of the party also increased after Turkish intervention in Cyprus
following a coup which had been staged by the Cypriot National Guard
led by Nikos Sampson
However, the CHP and the MSP had very diverged ideologies, especially on secularism
and in 1975 a new coalition government led by Süleyman Demirel was formed by four right wing parties called the First National Front Government
. Nevertheless, the CHP was still the most popular party and won the 1977 elections with 41% of the vote, which is a record for the party. Although the CHP couldn't gain the majority of seats and from 1977 to 1979, the CHP was the main party of two brief coalition governments. But in 1980, the AP returned with Demirel. The political switching between the CHP and the AP came to an end when the military performed a coup
and banned all political parties.
Recovery period (1980–1992)
After the 1980 military coup, the name "Republican People's Party" and the abbreviation CHP were banned from use by the military regime. Until 1998, Turkey was ruled by the centre-right Motherland Party
(ANAP) and the True Path Party
(DYP), unofficial successors of the Democrat Party.
CHP followers also tried to establish parties. But they were not allowed to use the name CHP and were not allowed to elect the well known pre-1980 politicians to party posts. So they had to introduce new politicians.
The three parties of CHP followers were the Populist Party
( tr|Halkçı Parti, HP) of Necdet Calp
, the Social Democracy Party
( tr|Sosyal Demokrasi Partisi, SODEP) of Erdal İnönü
and the Democratic Left Party ( tr|Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP) of Rahşan Ecevit
. These names were chosen to remind people of the CHP. Necdet Calp was the late İsmet İnönü's secretary while he was prime minister. Erdal İnönü was İsmet İnönü's son and Rahşan Ecevit was Bülent Ecevit's wife.
The ban on pre-1980 politicians was lifted in 1987 and the ban on pre-1980 parties was lifted in 1992. Both of these normalization steps were largely due to Erdal İnönü's efforts. He also tried to unify the three parties; SODEP and HP merged in 1985 to form the Social Democratic Populist Party
(SHP), but DSP remained separate.
Baykal period (1992–2010)
The CHP was re-established after the 1987 referendum
and a legislation in 1993 which allowed the re-establishment of older parties.
In 1991, since Turkey's election system had two large election thresholds post-1980 (10% nationwide and 15% local thresholds) and since the centre-left was divided into two parties (SHP and DSP), social democrats and democratic left groups had little power in parliament. Between 1991 and 1995, Turkey was ruled by the coalition of centre-right DYP and center-left SHP (later, the SHP joined the CHP). The Islamists
returned with a new party, the Welfare Party
(Refah), while the nationalist MHP
took advantage of the disillusionment felt by former supporters of the Refah Party and the constant bickering of ANAP and DYP.
In 1995, the Islamist Welfare Party
(Refah) entered parliament, and the CHP's share of the vote dropped further to 10% and it received only 49 of the 550 MPs. It now seemed as if the CHP had been replaced as the main left-wing party.
But the Welfare Party was banned in 1998, and during the 1990s the Democratic Left Party led by former CHP leader Bülent Ecevit gained popular support. In 1998, after the resignation of the Refah-DYP coalition following the 28 February
"post-modern coup", ANAP formed a coalition government with the DSP and the small centre-right party Democratic Turkey Party
(DTP), along with the support of CHP.
However, due to big scandals, corruption
and some illegal actions of this coalition, the CHP withdrew its support from the coalition and helped bring down the government with a "no confidence" vote. Just before the elections of 1999, the DSP formed an interim minority government with the support of the DYP and ANAP. Notably, PKK
leader Abdullah Öcalan
was captured in Kenya
during this Ecevit period.
Therefore, in the elections of 1999, the CHP failed to pass the 10% threshold (8.7% vote), winning no seats in parliament. Baykal
resigned in 1999 and Altan Öymen
became the new leader. But one year later, Baykal became the leader of the party again.
About a month after the 1999 general election
, a coalition government between the DSP, MHP and ANAP
was formed under the leadership of the DSP. This government passed many important laws, including banking reform, unemployment insurance
, a law to ensure the autonomy of the Central Bank
, qualified industrial zones, tender law, employment incentive law, to name a few. The government also changed 34 articles of the Constitution to widen fundamental rights and freedoms, and did this with the approval of all the parties in parliament. Turkey became a candidate country to the European Union
(without any political preconditions and with equal treatment as all other candidate countries). Three major EU harmonisation packages were passed during this government, including the most comprehensive package of 3 August 2002, which included the removal of the death penalty
and many changes in fundamental rights and freedoms. An economic crisis which resulted from long overdue problems from previous governments caused a drop in the currency in February 2001. But 2 months later, the government passed a series of very comprehensive economic reforms which enabled the high growth of 2002–2007.
Because the DSP opposed the US invasion of Iraq
, a campaign to divide the DSP and force a change of government in Turkey was started. When its coalition partner MHP called for early elections in the summer of 2002, it faced the electorate before the results of economic reforms could be felt. As a result, none of the coalition parties were able to pass the 10% national threshold.
Post 2002 Election
In the 2002 parliamentary elections
, the CHP won 178 seats in parliament, and only it and the AKP
(Justice and Development Party) entered parliament. The CHP became the main opposition party again and Turkey's second largest party. It had begun the long road to recovery.
However, that this had very little to do with voters supporting CHP. Many were former DSP supporters who were angry at the economic crisis that many blamed on the Ecevit government. Also, many DSP and ANAP supporters left these parties for AKP as did many MHP and Fazilet
(now Saadet party
Many on the left were very critical of the leadership of CHP, especially Deniz 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. While the AKP boasted a young leadership who have lived through many of the difficulties of many in Turkey
, the CHP were seen as an 'old guard' that did not represent modern Turkey. The leftists also are very critical of 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
Despite this recovery, since the dramatic 2002 general election, the CHP has been racked by internal power struggles, and has been outclassed by the AKP government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
. In the local elections of 2004
, its overall share of the vote held, largely through mopping up anti-Erdoğan votes among former supporters of smaller left-wing and secular right-wing parties, but was badly beaten by the AKP across the country, losing former strongholds such as Antalya
In October 2004, the New Turkey Party
(Yeni Türkiye Partisi, YTP) merged into the CHP. Baykal attempted fusing DSP and the CHP together under one roof, namely CHP, under his leadership.
In order to present a strong alternative to the AKP in the 2007 general election, the DSP showed a sacrifice and entered the elections together with the CHP. The CHP and DSP alliance received 20.9% of the votes and entered the parliament with 112 MPs.
In the 2009 local elections
, the party tried to attract conservative and devout Muslims to the party by allowing women who wear the hijab
to become party members including promises to introduce Koran
courses if requested in every district. However, the allowing of women wearing hijab into the party received a severe blow when a normally non-headscarved member of CHP (Kıymet Özgür) committed a provocation by wearing a black hijab and tried to get into an election bus in Istanbul. The incident raised questions about the CHP's initiatives in favor of religious freedoms. The new initiatives introduced were surprising inside and outside the party, and with military leaders.
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 where a woman is also eminent (identified as Nesrin Baytok, his former private secretary and a member of parliament) was leaked to the media.
Although Baykal has stepped down from the chair of his party leadership, he remained active in politics for CHP as a parliament member.
Kılıçdaroğlu period (2010–present)
On 22 May 2010 the convention of the Republican People's Party elected Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
to be the new party leader. Kılıçdaroğlu set about immediately to reform the party and many critics of the day commented positively how the Kılıçdaroğlu period would see the People's Republican Party move more to the left as in the time of Bülent Ecevit, in contrast to the Baykal period which had moved CHP more closer to centre politics
to such an extent that left-wing intellectuals had started to claim how the CHP was becoming a right-wing party. Kılıçdaroğlu saw an immense rise in popularity and support throughout the country and for the first time in twenty years, the party became directly active in the eastern parts of the country. In late 2010, the party held a Great Election where the Party Leader's cabinet was reformed. It marked the complete end of the 'Baykal - Önder Sav
' era where all opposition to the changing policy of the CHP was swiftly removed.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's efforts seemed to work since elections held on 12 June 2011, CHP was able to increase the number & the percentage of voters to 11,155,972 and 25.98% respectively.
Yet, in 2012, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu faced an attempted rebellion by the old guard in his own party, reportedly supported by Baykal. However, the attempt failed and at the party congress held in 2012, Kılıçdaroğlu remained the CHP leader. This paved the way for him into following his plans for what he considers renovating the party to becoming a social democratic party in the European context.
, a member of parliament
, was announced as the presidential candidate of the Republican People's Party (CHP) on 3 May 2018. On the following day, 4 May, party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
formally proclaimed the CHP's support for İnce. Shortly thereafter, the CHP began preparations for the campaign season, launching the production of campaign material and merchandise. It was revealed in early May that İnce's campaign would adopt the slogan “''Türkiye’ye güvence Muharrem İnce''”, roughly translating to "Muharrem İnce, an assurance to Turkey", and that it would be kicked off with an election rally in his home city of Yalova
on 5 May.
, and Democrat
parties established the Nation Alliance
to challenge the AKP
's People's Alliance
in the 2018 Parliamentary elections.
The 2019 local elections
saw great gains for the CHP, winning the municipal mayoralties of Istanbul
. Some consider their new respective mayors Ekrem İmamoğlu
and Mansur Yavaş
possible candidates for the upcoming 2023 presidential election
The Republican People's Party is a centre-left
political party with traditional ties to the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar worker
s, retired generals, government bureaucrats
, academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals and labour unions such as DİSK
. 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.
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.
At the 2007 general election
, CHP ran in alliance with the Democratic Left Party
. The CHP suffered a heavy defeat, getting 7,300,234 votes (20.85% of the total). The CHP, DSP, and YTP
combined received 21.77% of the votes in the 2002 election
. The party finished first only in the three Thracian
provinces of Edirne
, as well as two provinces on the Aegean
coast, which were İzmir
. With these results, 112 candidates (13 being DSP candidates) were elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
from the CHP electoral sheet, compared to 178 in 2002.
The CHP increased its vote share from 20.9% to 23.1% in the 2009 local elections
. The party gained considerable ground by winning over Antalya
, and Aydın
, despite losing Trabzon
municipality. In 20 provinces of Turkey, the party received less than 3% of the votes.
At the general elections
held in June 2011, the CHP was able to increase its number and percentage of voters to 11,155,972 and 25.98% respectively. At the 2014 local elections
, the CHP's total votes went down to 10,835,876 yet it received 26.34% of the overall vote. CHP-backed candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu
was able to get only 38.44% of the votes during the presidential election
five months later. In the June 2015 general elections
where the ruling AKP
lost its parliamentary majority for the first time, the party received 11,518,139 votes, or 24.95%. A coalition government was not formed and snap elections were held in November 2015
, where the CHP received 12,111,812 votes, or 25.32%.
The CHP usually draw much of their support from secular
and liberally religious voters with a stable electorate from voters of big cities, coastal regions, the professional middle-class, and 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."
The party's leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, is also an Alevi himself.
The party's strongholds are the Aegean region
), the Thrace region
) the Eastern black sea region (Ardahan
) and the Anatolian college town of Eskişehir
CHP has several internal caucuses.
*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
, while opposing Kemalism
within the party. They have included ÖDP
, SHP, DSP
and independent left candidates in their tickets.
*İnce group ''(İnce grubu)'', a caucus that endorsed Muharrem İnce
's presidential candidacy and opposition within the party. It includes Kemalist
*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.
*We for the Future ''(Gelecek için Biz)'', 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
to mainstream republicanism.
*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.
* Independent Group (Turkey)
* List of political parties in Turkey
* Ulus (newspaper)
* The Six Arrows
(flag of CHP)
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