Motherland Party

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Political party in Turkey formed in 1983 by Turgut Özal.

The Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi, or ANAP) stood in the center-right of the political spectrum and governed Turkey from 1983 to 1991. The personality and worldview of Turgut Özal were instrumental to the party's success. Rejecting from the start the dichotomy between the state and society and Islam and modernity, the party tried to formulate a new synthesis. Its economic policies transformed Turkey during the 1980s, introducing free-market reforms and downsizing the public sector. The ANAP government also applied to join the European Union in 1987. Although Özal's policies produced an economic development boom, they also led to high inflation and charges of corruption.

Özal officially resigned as ANAP leader in 1989 to become president, but his influenceand that of his wife and brotherscontinued in party affairs. For example, Özal handpicked his successor, Yildirim Akbulut. After Akbulut proved ineffective, both as party chair and as prime minister, Özal pressured him to resign in June 1991; in anticipation of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Özal approved the younger and more dynamic Mesut Yilmaz as Akbulut's successor. Yilmaz faced the challenge of developing a new party identity that would appeal to a broader constituency; otherwise, ANAP would expend all its energies competing with the ideologically similar True Path Party. Although ANAP's policies and constituency were similar to those of the True Path Party, the intense personal rivalry between Süleyman Demirel and Özal precluded political cooperation between the two parties prior to Özal's death in 1993.

Since the 1991 elections, ANAP's position has declined steadily (in the 1987 elections it reached its peak by obtaining 65 percent of seats in the Turkish Grand National Assembly). It was forced to enter into a brief coalition government with the True Path Party in 1995, and then it supported the government of Bülent Ecevit from 1997 to 1998. ANAP was one of the big losers in the 1999 elections, declining to fourth place among Turkey's political parties when it won only 14 percent of total votes. Nevertheless, the proportional representation system that awarded parliamentary seats to parties that received at least 10 percent of the vote enabled ANAP to obtain 86 of the 450 seats in the parliament. In the 2002 general elections, however, ANAP won only 5.12 percent of the votes and thus could not qualify for any seats. While in opposition, ANAP has criticized the customs union with the European Union, arguing that its terms conflict with Turkey's interests.

see also demirel, sÜleyman; ecevit, bÜlent; Özal, turgut; true path party; turkish grand national assembly.


Zürcher, Erik J. Turkey: A Modern History, revised edition. London: I. B. Tauris, 1997.

frank tachau
updated by m. hakan yavuz