Erbakan, Necmeddin (1926–)

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Necmeddin Erbakan served as Turkey's prime minister (1996–1997) and was the founder of the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi). A mechanical engineer, university professor, diesel factory founder, and Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry president, he was elected to Parliament in 1969 as a spokesman for small business.

Erbakan started the National Order Party (Milli Nizam Partisi) in 1970, which was banned after the 1971 military coup. As founder of the National Salvation Party (Milli Selâmet Partisi, 1972) he became deputy premier. After the 1980 coup this party also was banned and Erbakan ousted from politics. Erbakan's third party, the Welfare Party (formed in 1983), which opposed corruption and demanded a pro-Islamic, anti-Western foreign policy, received 21 percent of the vote in 1996. Erbakan headed a coalition government with Tansu Çiller of the True Path Party.

As prime minister Erbakan became more moderate, improving Turkey's Mideast relations while maintaining its Western alliances. Domestically, he raised civil service salaries and cleaned up the cities. He could not halt corruption, however; coalition partners as well as opponents were involved.

Pressure from the military, alarmed by Islamism, forced Erbakan's resignation (1997) and the party's closure (1998). He was imprisoned for a year for "inciting hatred," though supporters considered him a fighter for religious freedom. After his ouster, Erbakan unofficially backed a successor party, Virtue (Fazilet), which disavowed radical Islamism.

See alsoModernization, Political: Participation, Political Movements, and Parties ; Political Islam .


Howe, Marvine. Turkey Today: A Nation Divided over Islam's Revival. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000.

Zurcher, Erik J. Turkey: A Modern History. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1993.

Linda T. Darling