Social Democratic Populist Party

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Center-left political party in Turkey, 1985 to 1998.

The Social Democratic Populist Party (Sosyal Demo-krat Halkçi Partisi, or SHP) was formed in November 1985 as a result of the merger of two left-of-center parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), founded in 1983 by Erdal İnönü, and Necdet Calp's Populist Party, which also was founded in 1983. In the parliamentary elections of November 1983 the Populist Party had won the second largest number of seats in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The SDP had been banned from participating in those elections, but the National Security Council did allow it take part in the 1984 local elections, and it emerged at the local level as the main opposition to the ruling Motherland Party of Turgut Özal. The Populist Party received less than 10 percent of the vote in the local elections and thus won no seats on the municipal councils, although it remained the main opposition to the Motherland Party within the National Assembly. Because they espoused a similar political ideology and appealed to the same voting constituency, the two parties joined to form the SHP. İnönü became the chair of the SHP, which presented itself as an heir to the Republican People's Party (CHP), which had been founded by his father, İsmet İnönü, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In the 1991 parliamentary elections the SHP emerged as the third largest party in the National Assembly, with 88 seats. Subsequently, it joined with the True Path Party of Süleyman Demirel as the junior partner in a coalition government. The SHP's participation in this coalition became controversial because a small group of SHP deputies charged that the True Path Party sanctioned civil-rights abuses, especially in the Kurdish areas, and that these violations compromised democratic practices and also Turkey's chances for membership in the European Union. Most prominent among these dissidents was Deniz Baykal, who left the SHP in 1992 and announced that he was reactivating the CHP. Although several of its deputies in parliament defected to the CHP, the SHP remained in the coalition government until the 1996 parliamentary elections, when it lost many seats. Subsequently, the SHP entered into negotiations with the CHP and merged with it following the February 1997 "soft coup" by the military against the Refah Partydominated coalition government of Prime Minister Necmeddin Erbakan.

see also atatÜrk, mustafa kemal; demirel, sÜleyman; erbakan, necmeddin;İnÖnü, erdal; motherland party; national security council (turkey);Özal, turgut; refah partisi;republican people's party (rpp); true path party; turkish grand national assembly.


Hooglund, Eric. "Government and Politics." In Turkey: A Country Study, edited by Helen Chapin Metz. Washington, DC: GPO for Library of Congress, 1996.

frank tachau
updated by m. hakan yavuz

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Social Democratic Populist Party

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