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National Salvation Party


political party in turkey during the 1970s.

The National Salvation Party (Milli Selamet Partisi, or NSP) was formed in October 1972 as a successor to the National Order Party (NOP), which had been dissolved by Turkey's Constitutional Court following the March 1971 military coup d'état. Like the NOP, the NSP represented itself as a modern party inspired by and reflecting traditional Sunni Islamic ethical values. A key figure behind the formation of both parties was the Naqshbandi (Sufi order) leader Mehmet Zahid Kotku. The most prominent NOP/NSP politician, however, was Necmeddin Erbakan, who fled temporarily to Switzerland in 1971 to avoid arrest. In the election of 1973, the NSP received 11.8 percent of the vote and obtained eighty seats in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, thus becoming its third largest party. Erbakan returned to Turkey and became the NSP's leader in October, one week after the 1973 election.

In February 1974 the NSP joined the first coalition government formed by Bülent Ecevit of the Republican People's Party. The NSP held six cabinet positions during the seven-month tenure of this government. The most significant development in the period was the crisis in Cyprus, to which the coalition government dispatched troops to protect the Turkish minority living in the northern part of the island. The military intervention resulted in both Erbakan and Ecevit acquiring reputations as heroes, although this did not translate into electoral support for either man's party. Ecevit resigned in October 1974, thus ending the coalition.

The NSP next agreed to participate in the first National Front government under Süleyman Demirel of the Justice Party (April 1975 to July 1977). In the 1977 elections, however, the NSP's share of the national vote declined to 8.6 percent, and it lost half of its seats in the assembly. It participated in Demirel's brief second National Front government (July to December 1977) and in the minority government from November 1979 until the September 1980 military coup. All political parties were disbanded after the coup. The successor to the NSP was the Refah Partisi, founded in July 1983. After the September 1987 referendum that reestablished the right of prominent former politicians to pursue political activities, Erbakan became chairman of Refah.

The strength of the NSP was in the small towns and rural areas of Anatolia. Religious groups such as the Naqshbandi, other Sufi orders, and the Nurcu generally supported the party. The NSP embraced industrialization and technological advancement but criticized what it termed blind imitation of European culture and lifestyles. Its main program was embodied in a document called the National Outlook (Milli Görüş), which called for the strengthening of culture, industrialization, social justice, and education. It was, in practice, a populist agenda based on respect for Turkey's Ottoman-Islamic heritage, conservative social values, and equal opportunities for the nonelite middle and lower classes.

see also erbakan, necmeddin; naqshbandi; nursi, said.


Landau, Jacob M. "The National Salvation Party in Turkey." Asian and African Studies 11, no. 1 (1976): 156.

Toprak, Binnaz. "Politicization of Islam in a Secular State: The NSP in Turkey." In From Nationalism to Revolutionary Islam, edited by Said Arjomand. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984.

nermin abadan-unat
updated by eric hooglund

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