Justice Party

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Turkish political party.

The Justice Party ( JP) was founded in early 1961 by the former chief of the general staff, Ragip Gümüspala and ten associates, four of whom had been active in the Democrat Party (DP). The JP was created as a continuation of the DP and absorbed the latter's provincial party organization. Three groups comprised the JP in the early years and vied for its leadership: a group of officers centered around Gümüspala; a right-wing group led by Gökhan Evliyaoğlu; and a liberal wing, which succeeded in making Süleyman Demirel head of the party in 1964. The JP received 43.8 percent of the vote in the October 1961 elections and formed a coalition government with the Republican People's Party (RPP) that lasted until May 1962. In the October 1965 general elections, the Demirel-led JP received 53 percent of the vote and 240 out of 450 seats in the National Assembly. The JP also won the 1965 and 1969 elections, but despite a rapidly growing economy, expanding political instability led the military to threaten to intervene. On 13 March 1971 the Demirel government resigned.

When civilian politics resumed in 1973, Demirel refused to form a coalition with the RPP, and the JP became the main opposition party. In 1975, Demirel formed a coalition government, known as the Nationalist Front, with three other parties and independents. Although the coalition lasted more than two years, members of the coalition seldom cooperated, preferring to work to infiltrate supporters into the bureaucracy. In addition, during these years, the JP became associated with the extremist right-wing positions of one of its partners, the Nationalist Action Party. The 1977 elections were held in the midst of increasing street violence. Following the elections, the RPP formed a minority government that lasted less than one month, and Demirel attempted to form a government. The second JP-dominated Nationalist Front government lasted only through 1977. The JP formed a third government in December 1979: It was in power at the time of the Black September coup. One of the first acts of the new military government was to close down all existing parties, putting an end to the JP. In 1983, the True Path Party was established as a continuation of the JP.

Like the DP, the Justice Party won support from peasants in the wealthier regions of the country, commercial farmers, and the business community. In addition, the party won the votes of many workers and residents of the squatter districts of the cities, but in the 1970s, the RPP began to win the loyalty of these two groups. Like the DP, the JP sought to expand the private sector but also intervened widely in the economy through the public sector, controls over trade, and other regulations. Through 1970, the JP pursued a policy of import-substituting industrialization. Beginning in 1970, the government attempted to reorient the economy toward exporting, a move resisted by many industrialists.

Despite similarities with the DP, a number of changes in Turkey prevented the JP from replicating its predecessors' electoral success. First, the proliferation of smaller parties made it necessary to form coalition governments in the 1970s. Second, the RPP made many inroads into the urban coalitions that had supported the DP in the 1950s and the JP in the 1960s. Third, in 1967, a more militant workers' union was formed, which refused to cooperate with the government. Fourth, small businessmen in the party were alienated by JP policies that favored large businessmen, particularly in Istanbul. Many small-business owners supported the National Order Party, led by Necmeddin Erbakan, which captured a portion of JP votes. Fifth, the JP continued the DP policy of closely allying with the West. But, particularly after American condemnation of the Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974, many people criticized the JP for being too close to the West. Finally, in the 1960s, rising tensions led to escalating political violence. All of these factors combined to make it more difficult for the JP to form stable governments than it had been for the DP.

see also demirel, sÜleyman; erbakan, necmeddin; nationalist action party; republican people's party (rpp); true path party.


Ahmad, Feroz. The Making of Modern Turkey. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

Levi, Ayner. "The Justice Party, 19611980." In Political Parties and Democracy in Turkey, edited by Metin Heper and Jacob M. Landau. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1991.

Sherwood, W. B. "The Rise of the Justice Party in Turkey." World Politics 20 (19671968): 5465.

david waldner