Bülent Ecevit

Mustafa Bülent Ecevit (Turkish: [mustaˈfa byˈlænt edʒeˈvit]; 28 May 1925 – 5 November 2006) was a Turkish politician, statesman, poet, writer, scholar, and journalist, who served as the Prime Minister of Turkey four times between 1974 and 2002. He served as prime minister in 1974, 1977, 1978–1979, and 1999–2002.[1] Ecevit was chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP) between 1972 and 1980, and in 1987 he became chairman of the Democratic Left Party (DSP).

Bülent Ecevit
Bülent Ecevit-Davos 2000 cropped.jpg
Ecevit in 2000
16th Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
11 January 1999 – 18 November 2002
PresidentSüleyman Demirel
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
DeputyDevlet Bahçeli
Hüsamettin Özkan
Şükrü Sina Gürel
Mesut Yılmaz
Hikmet Uluğbay
Preceded byMesut Yılmaz
Succeeded byAbdullah Gül
In office
5 January 1978 – 12 November 1979
PresidentFahri Korutürk
DeputyOrhan Eyüboğlu
Turhan Feyzioğlu
Hikmet Çetin
Faruk Sükan
Preceded bySüleyman Demirel
Succeeded bySüleyman Demirel
In office
21 June 1977 – 21 July 1977
PresidentFahri Korutürk
DeputyOrhan Eyüboğlu
Preceded bySüleyman Demirel
Succeeded bySüleyman Demirel
In office
26 January 1974 – 17 November 1974
PresidentFahri Korutürk
DeputyNecmettin Erbakan
Preceded byNaim Talu
Succeeded bySadi Irmak
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
30 June 1997 – 11 January 1999
Prime MinisterMesut Yılmaz
Served withİsmet Sezgin
Preceded byTansu Çiller
Succeeded byHikmet Uluğbay
Leader of the Democratic Left Party
In office
15 January 1989 – 25 July 2004
Preceded byNecdet Karababa (acting)
Succeeded byZeki Sezer
In office
13 September 1987 – 7 March 1988
Preceded byRahşan Ecevit
Succeeded byNecdet Karababa
3rd Leader of the Republican People's Party
In office
14 May 1972 – 30 October 1980
Preceded byİsmet İnönü
Succeeded byDeniz Baykal (1992)
16th Minister of Labour
In office
20 November 1961 – 20 February 1965
Preceded byCahit Talas
Succeeded byİhsan Sabri Çağlayangil
Member of the Grand National Assembly
In office
20 October 1991 – 18 November 2002
ConstituencyZonguldak (1991)
Istanbul (1995, 1999)
In office
27 October 1957 – 12 September 1980
ConstituencyAnkara (1957, 1961)
Zonguldak (1965, 1969, 1973, 1977)
Personal details
Born(1925-05-28)28 May 1925
İstanbul, Turkey
Died5 November 2006(2006-11-05) (aged 81)
Ankara, Turkey
Resting placeTurkish State Cemetery, Ankara
Political partyRepublican People's Party
(1957–1980)
Democratic Left Party
(1989–2006)
Spouse
(m. 1946)
RelationsNazlı Ecevit (mother)
Fahri Ecevit (father)
Alma materRobert College
School of Oriental and African Studies
Signature
Nickname(s)Karaoğlan, Halkçı Ecevit, Kıbrıs Fatihi

Ecevit began his political career when he was elected a CHP MP from Ankara in the 1957, and came to prominence as Minister of Labour in İsmet İnönü's cabinets, representing the rising left-wing faction of the party. Ecevit eventually became leader of the CHP in 1972; his leadership rejuvenated the party by reaching out to working class voters and cementing the party as "Left of Center". Ecevit became Prime Minister in 1974, during which he retracted the ban on cultivation of opium and invaded Cyprus. He formed two more governments in 1977 and 1978–1979 which were marked by increasing polarization, deadlock, and political violence that ended with the 1980 coup.

Following the coup, Ecevit, along with most politicians, was banned from politics for ten years. During the ban, the Democratic Left Party (DSP) was established under the chairmanship of his wife, Rahşan. When the political ban was lifted in 1987, he became the head of the DSP. While heading a caretaker government for the 1999 election, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in Kenya, catapulting DSP into first place in the election. The DSP-MHP-ANAP coalition (1999–2002) introduced important political and economic reforms, as well as beginning Turkey's accession into the European Union. The MHP's withdrawal from the coalition led to the government's collapse, and in the subsequent 2002 snap election, the DSP was ejected from parliament after being unable to clear the electoral threshold. Ecevit resigned the chairmanship of the party in 2004. He died on Sunday, November 5, 2006, as a result of circulatory and respiratory failure.

Ecevit is known for being Turkey's only leftist prime minister.[1] His chairmanship resulted in the highest shares of votes CHP and any other left-wing party have ever gained in Turkish history. He is credited for introducing social democratic politics to Turkey by synthesizing Kemalism with social democracy, thus making social democracy a core tenet in modern Kemalist ideology. Ecevit is the last Prime Minister of Turkey who was not a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Early lifeEdit

FamilyEdit

Mustafa Bülent was born 28 May 1925 in İstanbul to a middle-class family. He was named after his Kurdish[2][3][4] grandfather Mustafa Şükrü Efendi.[5][6][7] Mustafa Şükrü's son and Bülent's father Fahri Ecevit was a professor of forensic medicine in Ankara University's Law School. Fahri later entered politics and served as a Republican People's Party member of parliament for Kastamonu between 1943-1950. His mother of Bosniak ancestry, Fatma Nazlı, was among the first women in Turkey to paint professionally.[8] He had no siblings.

Bülent Ecevit's maternal great-grandfather was the Meccan Sheikh-ul-Islam Hacı Emin Pasha, who served to protect the holy sights of Hejaz in the Ottoman Empire. The inheritance of his estate, which consisted of approximately 110 decares of land and 99 acres of the Masjid an-Nabawi was left to him once Ecevit's mother passed away. An unofficial valuation made by a Medina Court was put at $11 billion while another lawyer valued the estate at almost $2 billion. In the end Ecevit donated the proceeds of the estate to the Directorate of Religious Affairs for the benefit of Turkish Hajjis, after his retirement from politics.[9][10]

Education and journalismEdit

In 1944, Ecevit graduated from Robert College in İstanbul. He started working as a translator at the General Directorate for Press and Publication (Turkish: Basın Yayın Genel Müdürlüğü). In 1946, shortly after marrying his classmate Zekiye Rahşan Aral, he moved to London to work in the Turkish embassy as a press attaché. During his stay he studied Bengali, Sanskrit and Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, but did not graduate.[11]

 
Rahşan Ecevit, Bülent's wife

Bülent Ecevit was not only a politician but also a poet, journalist and a writer. In the 1950s, he worked as an editor for Ulus, and then Yeni Ulus, Halkçi, and Forum when it was shut down by the Democrat Party. In 1955 Ecevit went to the US for three months as a guest journalist for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina, and was disturbed by the racism he witnessed in the American South.[12][13] On his last day at the newspaper he wrote a front-page article about how strange it was that Americans took it upon themselves to fight oppression in the world while white Americans were

“guilty of refusing to drink from the same fountain as the man who has fought on the same front for the same cause; guilty of refusing to travel on the same coach or seat as the man who has been working with equal ardor for a common community; guilty of refusing to pray to God side by side with the man who believes in the same prophet’s teaching.”

On a State Department fellowship, he returned to the United States with a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship Scholarship in 1957, studying social psychology and Middle East history at Harvard University for eight months. He attended lectures on anti-communism with Olof Palme and Bertrand Russell.[citation needed]

Even as a politician he continued writing for various newspapers, including the daily Milliyet in 1965, the monthly Özgür İnsan magazine in 1972, the weekly Arayış in 1981,[14] and the monthly Güvercin magazine in 1988. Ecevit also translated works by Rabindranath Tagore, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Bernard Lewis into Turkish.[15] Ecevit was successful in these literary endeavors despite never having graduated from a university, a fact that prevented him from ever running for the Presidency of the Turkish Republic.[citation needed]

Early political careerEdit

Writing about politics in Ulus made Bülent Ecevit interested in pursuing a career out of it, and so he registered with the Republican People's Party (CHP) Çankaya branch in 1954,[16] eventually taking part in its Youth Branch Executive Board. At the age of thirty two, he was elected into the Grand National Assembly (Turkey's parliament) for the first time in 1957, representing Ankara as a member of the CHP. He was part of the party's delegation to the Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution after the 1960 military coup d'état. At the age of thirty six, he served as the Minister of Labour in three coalition governments headed by İsmet İnönü, between 1961 and 1965. The Law on Collective Bargaining, Strikes and Lockouts was signed into law, giving workers the right to strike and collective bargaining, as well as expanding social security privileges.

By 1965, Ecevit was the leader of the "Democratic Left Movement", a young and energetic left-wing faction in the CHP. He pressured his mentor İnönü to adopt a new party program known as Left of Center for the general elections that year, arguing that democratic socialism was the best way to combat communism.[17] The party lost the election to Süleyman Demirel's center-right Justice Party.[18] In opposition, the party was racked with internal power struggles, as Ecevit and Turhan Feyzioğlu fought over the party's political orientation. İnönü reluctantly favored Ecevit (who he thought was too young), and in the 18th ordinary CHP congress held in 1966 he was elected secretary general of the CHP. An extraordinary congress held the next year saw 47 deputies and senators led by Feyzioğlu leave the CHP to found the Reliance Party. In 1969, secretary general Ecevit announced a village development program and using the slogan "The soil tiller, [and] the water user."[19]

Another interparty crisis occurred in the military memorandum of 1971 as Ecevit resigned from his position in protest against İnönü's decision to support the military government. He objected the memorandum, saying that it was directed against the Left of Center movement within the CHP. Heated exchanges occurred between the once old allies, with at one point İnönü saying "[It's] Either me or Bülent!"[20] promising that he would resign if his party did not have confidence in him. On 8 May 1972 İsmet İnönü lost a vote of confidence in an extraordinary congress, and was replaced by Ecevit. İnönü thus was the first general chairman in Turkish political history to lose his position as a result of a party leadership vote.

CHP chairmanEdit

Despite the conflict between İnönü and Ecevit originally being about the former's support for the technocratic military government, Ecevit initially provided ministers to the Melen government, but withdrew support soon after a reaction from his party base. Rumours circulated that CHP would be banned by the military.[21]

In the 1973 presidential election, both Ecevit and Demirel agreed to end the soldier-president tradition and voted against Faruk Gürler. The two compromised to support Fahri Korutürk's candidacy as the president, who was an admiral. However secretary general Kamil Kırıkoğlu still voted for Gürler and he and 32 CHP deputies resigned from the party.

First premiership (1974)Edit

 
A delegation lead by Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, visiting Claude Monet's gardens after attending French President Georges Pompidou's funeral. The delegation was received by Bernard Berche, the Mayor of Giverny. The French hosts were reportedly embarrassed for their presenting the unkempt garden in front of the cultured Turkish prime minister who spoke perfect English.

CHP's electability was put to the test in the general elections of 1973. With the campaign slogan Akgünlere (White days), the help of labour unions, and other leftist groups, the CHP won 185 deputies with 33.3% of the votes, winning a plurality of the votes and seats in parliament. Ecevit was invited to form a government, eventually forming a coalition with the Islamist National Salvation Party (MSP) headed by Necmettin Erbakan.[15]

A general amnesty that saw 40,000 rightists and leftists leave jail was implemented,[22] as well as lifting the ban on opium cultivation that was previously implemented by the military governments under heavy American pressure. The age to vote was lowered to 18.

In July 1974, inter-communal violence in Cyprus once again flared up when pro-EOKA forces staged a coup against president Makarios. Ecevit went to London to met with British officials, as the UK is also a guarantor state of Cyprus, but a common policy for the situation in Cyprus was not found. Ecevit decided to militarily intervene and invaded Cyprus, for which he is nicknamed the 'Conqueror of Cyprus' (Turkish: Kıbrıs Fatihi).[23] This resulted in an arms embargo by the United States on Turkey which lasted for three years.[24]

As a left-wing nationalist, Ecevit initially believed Turkey's destiny was not with Europe. He extended this Eurosceptic sentiment to his economic policy, not only establishing generous social programs and enabling a larger government role in the economy, but also raising protective tariffs to keep cheap foreign goods out of Turkey. This economic policy was shared with his political rival Süleyman Demirel. While developing economies like Spain and South Korea started to prosper through integration with western economic institutions, Turkey's economy remained stagnant at best and tumultuous at worst throughout the seventies.[1]

PolarizationEdit

 
Bülent Ecevit with the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, at the White House, 31 May 1978.
 
Bülent Ecevit and Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu

After much conflict with his coalition partner and hoping to gain more support for his government through a snap election, Ecevit resigned as prime minister after just 10 months of governing. He was outflanked when the right-wing parties united form the First Nationalist Front under Demirel's premiership. CHP defeated the Justice Party in the 1977 general elections by gathering 41.38% of the votes, the highest share of votes CHP and any other left-wing party has ever gained in Turkish history. Despite winning the election, Ecevit did not have a majority and was unable to form a coalition, so he formed a minority government which lasted just one month. Demirel subsequently took over as Prime Minister and formed another right-wing government known as the Second Nationalist Front.

In what was known as the Güneş Motel Incident, Ecevit was able to bring down Demirel's government on 5 January 1978, after announcing to the press "I am looking for 11 deputies who have no gambling debts." He became Prime Minister for a third time by forming a government supported by the Democratic Party, Republican Reliance Party, and 11 independent MPs who defected from the Justice Party to take cabinet positions in the new government. His third premiership was marked by a peak in political violence which manifested in Kahramanmaraş and Malatya against Alevis and CHP supporters and their subsequent reprisals against right wing activists. Ecevit suspected the "Counter-Guerrilla", the Turkish branch of Gladio, was responsible for the Taksim Square massacre in Istanbul, during which snipers fired on a protest rally of 500,000 citizens, killing 38 and injuring hundreds. Ecevit recalled that he learned for the first time of the existence of Operation Gladio, a secret "stay-behind" NATO army, in 1974. His government issued martial law on the final days of December 1978 in thirteen provinces mainly in southeastern Turkey, but also in İstanbul and Ankara.[25] With allegations of corruption between Ecevit and the independent MPs, TÜSİAD requesting his resignation by printing advertisements on newspapers, and defeat in the 1979 by-elections, Ecevit resigned as prime minister on 14 October 1979.[citation needed] Without a majority, Demirel governed until another military intervention on 12 September 1980.

Assassination attemptsEdit

Bülent Ecevit was subject to six assassination attempts all but one occurred in the 1970s. Five happened in Turkey[16] and one in the United States, the most famous of which took place on 23 July, 1976 in New York City and on 29 May, 1977 at Çiğli Airport. Mehmet İsvan, brother of the Mayor of İstanbul Ahmet İsvan [tr], was injured in the attempt in Çiğli Airport. Various testimonies allege that the weapon used in Çiğli Airport originated from the Special Warfare Department.[26]

Ban from politicsEdit

In 1980 the Turkish Armed Forces seized control of the country. Bülent and Rahşan and most politicians were incarcerated for a month in Hamzaköy, Gelibolu. Along with politicians of all other parties Ecevit was banned from politics for ten years, with the provisional Article 4 of the new constitution. He resigned from the chairmanship of the CHP on October 30, 1980[27] saying "when he is trapped at a house and kept silent those who want to mess with a party can do whatever they want."[28][29] The Republican People's Party and all other existing political parties were banned by the military. He was banned from traveling abroad in April 1981 for his opposition to the military rule. He was twice more imprisoned between 1981 and 1982 for his opposition to the junta.

This ban on politics did not stop Ecevit from continuing to participate in politics. He refused to associate himself with the successor parties created by old CHP supporters, like the Populist Party and Social Democracy Party. Instead his wife Rahşan Ecevit worked to establish a new political party: the Democratic Left Party (DSP). Bülent was often invited to speak in DSP rallies as a guest speaker. Many lawsuits filed against him on the grounds that he violated his ban on politics with his speeches. When the Populist Party and Social Democracy Party united under the name of the Social Democrat Populist Party (SHP) in November 1985 the Ecevits were criticized for refusing to also merge DSP with SHP, which served to divide the social-democratic/Kemalist votes.[30]

DSP chairmanEdit

With his ban from politics being finally lifted in a referendum in 1987, he took over the chairmanship of DSP, inheriting the position from Rahşan. His party failed to enter the Grand National Assembly for polling below 10% in the general elections held two months later, so Ecevit briefly resigned before returning as DSP leader in 1989. Emphasizing the need to preserve national unity and secularism in the general elections held in 1991, he attacked SHP, saying "Do not divide the social democratic votes." He also criticized SHP for forming an electoral alliance with the new pro-Kurdish People's Labor Party, and claimed that the SHP "cooperated with the separatists". Despite his partial Kurdish heritage, Ecevit refused to recognize Kurds as an ethnic group in his speeches, and would repeatedly oppose legislation to legalize education in Kurdish and Kurdish television. This stance mellowed upon European pressure when he returned to power.[1] Despite winning 11% of the vote, Ecevit and only six other DSP deputies entered parliament for the election.

With the ban on the name "Republican People's Party" and acronym "CHP" now lifted, an initiative to reestablish the CHP came to the agenda. Ecevit was invited to 1992 congress that refounded CHP, but he did not attend. While SHP merged under the reconstituted CHP in 1995, Ecevit again objected to uniting the Kemalist parties. To this day, DSP remains a separate political party from CHP.

DSP's fortunes changed after the 1995 elections, when the party won 76 seats out of 550. Ecevit served as deputy prime minister for two years in Mesut Yılmaz's government, who was assigned to form a government after Necmettin Erbakan was overthrown by the military in the "postmodern coup". In 1999, after nearly twenty years he returned to the premiership for the last time to form a minority government in the run-up to the 1999 general elections. In those elections – helped by the fact that Abdullah Öcalan, head of the PKK, was apprehended in Kenya and flown to Turkey during this period – Ecevit's party gained the largest number of seats, leading to his final term as Prime Minister in a coalition with centrist Motherland Party (ANAP) of Mesut Yılmaz and the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of Devlet Bahçeli.[citation needed] Ecevit's coalition partners offered to amend the constitution to allow for his presidential candidacy in the 2000 election, which he wasn't allowed to partake since he ever attained a degree from a higher educational institution. Despite his popularity and parliamentary support, he refused, instead opting to support the candidacy of independent politician Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

Last premiershipEdit

Domestic policyEdit

 
Bülent Ecevit with American President George W. Bush

Ecevit's last premiership was his longest at almost four years, and ultimately his most consequential. In coalition with parties to his right, he was criticized adopting pro-business policies and abandoning his leftist values.[1] The government passed many important laws, including banking reform, unemployment insurance, a law to ensure the autonomy of the Central Bank, qualified industrial zones, tender law, and employment incentive law, to name a few. The government amended 34 articles of the Constitution to widen fundamental rights and freedoms and undertook a number of reforms aimed at stabilizing the Turkish economy. These were in preparation for accession negotiations with the European Union. Ecevit acknowledged that his past anti-EU views were a mistake, and that Turkey's destiny with Europe.[1] His foreign minister İsmail Cem was instrumental in what is currently the latest step of Turkish–EU accession, when in the Helsinki Summit in December 1999, Turkey was recognized as a full candidate country for the European Union. Three major EU harmonisation packages were passed during this government, including the most comprehensive package of August 2002, which included the abolishment of capital punishment.[31]

A massive economic crisis which originated from long overdue problems from previous governments, but ultimately triggered by an incident where President Sezer threw a copy of the Turkish constitution at Ecevit in a National Security Council meeting caused the value of the Lira to crash in February 2001. But two months later, under the guidance of the politically independent economist Kemal Derviş, the government passed an extensive series of comprehensive economic reforms and regulations. These included changes to the tender law, economic social council law, unemployment insurance, the restructuring of state banks, accreditation law, law on capital markets, and establishment of competition authorities. These successful reforms allowed for Derviş to sign off on a $20 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, which enabled the high growth of 2002–2007 after DSP's fall from government.

The Kocaeli earthquake occurred 17 August 1999, killing tens of thousands in İstanbul and İzmit and causing billions in damages.

During this period, the "Law of Conditional Release and Postponement," also known as the Rahşan Amnesty, was passed in reaction to the large amount of hunger strikes occurring in prison, which gave conditional amnesty to crimes other than those committed against the state. Advocated for by Rahşan, she commented on the outcome of her law in retrospect, saying "I asked for forgiveness for the poor, [instead] the murderers benefited." With this amnesty, the number of prisoners decreased from seventy thousand to forty thousand, but in three years it increased again to sixty-four thousand.

Foreign policyEdit

 
Bülent Ecevit and US Vice President Dick Cheney

Bülent Ecevit was a strong opponent of the invasion of Iraq by the US, though he allowed American planes to use bases in Turkey for their air patrols over Northern Iraq. Even still, he criticized American sanctions on Iraqi civilians, which he said caused needless suffering.[1]

Ecevit maintained Turkey's close relationship with Israel, but denounced the IDF's raid on the Jenin refugee camp as "genocide" which he later said was meant against both Israel and Fatah.[1]

İsmail Cem achieved a period of rapprochement with Greece after relations were at an all-time low following the Öcalan affair.

Health concerns and government collapseEdit

Rumors about Bülent Ecevit's ill health were confirmed when he was taken to Başkent University Ankara Hospital on 4 May, 2002. He was taken out of the hospital by Rahşan[32] and brought to their home when his condition worsened.[32] Bülent rested at home for a while, but was taken to the hospital again on 17 May and stayed there for eleven days. Rahşan shared her doubts about her husbands treatment with public during this period. Her allegations were denied, but the issue was brought up again in the Ergenekon trials in the following years.

Discussions came to the fore whether Ecevit could continue governing while incapacitated. Nine deputies from the DSP issued a statement on 25 June, demanding "to lead a life without Ecevit under the leadership of Ecevit". Another group of DSP deputies, who made a press statement on behalf of him on 5 July, openly criticized Deputy Prime Minister Hüsamettin Özkan, one of the closest names to Ecevit. On 7 July, MHP chairman Bahçeli withdrew support from the coalition, and called for early elections on 3 November 2002. The next day, Özkan resigned, which was followed by the resignation of six ministers and half of DSP's parliamentary group, with most of them joining the New Turkey Party, founded by foreign minister Cem. With the resignations, the coalition government lost its numerical support in the parliament. A summit held on 16 July between the leaders of the coalition government resulted in the decision to hold early elections on 3 November. In the vote held in Grand National Assembly on at the end of July, 449 out of 514 deputies voted to hold an early election.[33]

Allegations of corruption, the economic crisis, as well as Ecevit's poor health resulted in DSP facing electoral wipeout in the 2002 general election, attaining only 1.2% of the vote and losing all of its MPs. In a press conference held on 22 May 2004 Ecevit announced Zeki Sezer as his successor to DSP, and resigned as chairman. He officially left active politics in that summer,[15] and devoted his remaining years to writing.[1]

Illness and deathEdit

 
Ecevit's tomb at the State Cemetery in Ankara, Turkey.

After attending the funeral of his friend Yücel Özbilgin, who was killed in the Turkish Council of State shooting on 19 May 2006, despite his advancing age, deteriorating health, and the opposition of his doctors, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and stayed in the intensive care unit of the Gülhane Military Medical Academy for a long time.[34] Ecevit died of circulatory and respiratory failure at 22:40 (20:40 [UTC]) on Sunday, 5 November, 2006, 172 days after he entered a vegetative state.

Immediately after his death the Grand National Assembly passed a law to allow for prime ministers and speakers of parliament to also be buried in the Turkish State Cemetery (Turkish: Devlet Mezarlığı) in Ankara, which allowed Bülent to be buried there.[35] Upon Rahşan's passing in January 2020, the parliament voted to also have civilians be buried in the State Cemetery, allowing her to be interned there too.[36]

A state funeral held on 11 November 2006 at the State Cemetery after a funeral prayer in Kocatepe Mosque,[37][38] attended by approximately a million people from all 81 provinces[39] and from many countries, especially from Northern Cyprus. Five former presidents also attended the funeral.

ControversiesEdit

Relationship with the Gülen movementEdit

Against the advise of the Turkish military, Ecevit visited Fethullah Gülen's schools and spoke highly of them. In 1997, the Journalists and Writers Foundation, of which Gülen was an honorary chairman of, presented Ecevit (and Demirel) with the "Award for National Reconciliation in the Field of Politics".[40]

During the escalation of the 1997 military memorandum crisis, Chief Public Prosecutor Nuh Mete Yüksel prepared an indictment against Gülen. Footage of Gülen's speeches years ago were broadcast on a multitude of television channels in which Gülen presented about "how they [the Gülen movement] should be structured in the bureaucracy".[41] Questioned about Gülen's statement later on, Prime Minister Ecevit defended Gülen in an interview, saying that he hasn't seen any suspicious behavior in his schools which provide secular education inline to the principles of Atatürk.[42]

While deputy prime minister, Ecevit requested the Italian Ambassador to greet Gülen when he went to Rome in 1998, which drew reaction from generals like Çevik Bir.[41]

Merve KavakçıEdit

In the inaugural session of the 21st parliament elected in 1999, Merve Kavakçı entered the Grand National Assembly's chamber with a headscarf, which violated Turkey's then strictly enforced laicité laws. DSP deputies protested her entrance, graveling their benches and shouting "out!" Ecevit eventually came up to the podium[43]

No one interferes with women's clothing, headscarves and private lives in Turkey. However, this is not a private living space. This is the highest institution of the state. Those who work here have to abide by the rules and traditions of the state. This is a challenge to the state! This is not the place to challenge! Please put this lady in her place!

Kavakçı did not show up to the second session of parliament, and her MP status was later terminated.[21]

PersonalityEdit

TrademarksEdit

Bülent Ecevit's trademark was his blue shirt and mariner's cap. Another trademark of his was the dove, in his many campaign rallies Ecevit released many doves into the air. The dove is also displayed on the logo of DSP. He smoked Bitlis and parliament cigarettes and wrote with an Erika typewriter, a gift from his in-law, İsmail Hakkı Okday. He donated his 70-year-old typewriter to the METU Science and Technology Museum.

He and Rahşan were both known for their modest personality and lifestyle.[44][1] They never had children.[1]

NicknamesEdit

The origin of Ecevit's popular nickname "Karaoğlan" (a Turkish folk hero) came in a visit to Kars. Shortly after his election as CHP chairman when found himself guest in the house of his friend Rasim Yarkadaş in Susuz district. Rasim's mother Şahzade Şahin welcomed her guest at the door of their house, hugging Ecevit and exclaiming in a distinct Kars dialect, "Save us from these troubles, Garaoğlan!"[45] He also had the nickname "Halkçı Ecevit" (Populist Ecevit).

Süleyman Demirel used the nickname "Allende-Büllende" to compare his rival, Ecevit, to the Chilean socialist statesman Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by a coup.[46]

Ecevit was also known as Kıbrıs Fatihi "Conqueror of Cyprus" after the Cyprus Operation during his premiership, and also as Kenya Fatihi "Conqueror of Kenya" after the operation to capture Abdullah Öcalan.

LegacyEdit

 
Monument in İzmir to Bülent and Rahşan Ecevit and the Cyprus operation

Ecevit holds a unique legacy in Turkey's political history for being its only leftist prime minister. There has also been no Kemalist prime ministers since him. His chairmanship resulted in the highest shares of votes CHP and any other left-wing party have ever gained in Turkish history. He was the last leader of Turkey before the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came into power at his expense in 2002, which has governed Turkey since. He was also the last democratically elected CHP prime minister.[21] Ecevit's DSP-MHP-ANAP government was the longest lasting coalition government in Turkish history.

Kartal Bülent Ecevit Cultural Center was put into service in 2005. In 2012 the name of Zonguldak Karaelmas University was changed to “Bülent Ecevit University." A wax sculpture of him began to be exhibited at the Tayfun Talipoğlu Typewriter Museum, which was opened in Odunpazarı, Eskişehir in May 2016. In 2021, a park in İzmir's Güzelbahçe district was named after him and his statue was erected.

Vurgun Adalayı portrayed Bülent Ecevit in the TV series Once Upon a Time in Cyprus.

WorksEdit

PoetryEdit

  • Şiirler (1976)
  • Işığı Taştan Oydum, Tekin Yayınevi (1978)
  • El Ele Büyüttük Sevgiyi, (1997)
  • Bir Şeyler Olacak Yarın, Doğan Kitapçılık (2005)

BooksEdit

  • Ortanın Solu, (1966)
  • Bu Düzen Değişmelidir, (1968)
  • Atatürk ve Devrimcilik, (1970)
  • Kurultaylar ve Sonrası, (1972)
  • Demokratik Sol ve Hükümet Bunalımı, (1974)
  • Demokratik Solda Temel Kavramlar ve Sorunlar, (1975)
  • Dış Politika, (1975)
  • Dünya-Türkiye-Milliyetçilik, (1975)
  • Toplum-Siyaset-Yönetim, (1975)
  • İşçi-Köylü El Ele, (1976)
  • Türkiye / 1965–1975, (1976)
  • Umut Yılı: 1977, (1977)

BibliographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Republican's People Party (CHP)
14 May 1972 – 29 October 1980
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP)
13 Sep 1987–1988
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP)
1989–25 Jul 2004
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Turkey
26 January 1974 – 17 November 1974
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Turkey
21 June 1977 – 21 July 1977
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Turkey
5 January 1978 – 12 November 1979
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
30 June 1997 – 11 January 1999
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Turkey
11 January 1999 – 19 November 2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary-General of the Republican People's Party
1966–1971
Succeeded by
Şeref Bakşık