Necmettin Erbakan (29 October 1926 – 27 February 2011) was a Turkish politician, engineer, and academic who was the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1996 to 1997. He was pressured by the military to step down as prime minister and was later banned from politics by the Constitutional Court of Turkey for allegedly violating the separation of religion and state as mandated by the constitution.[1][2]

Necmettin Erbakan
Erbakan in 2006
23rd Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
28 June 1996 – 30 June 1997
PresidentSüleyman Demirel
DeputyTansu Çiller
Preceded byMesut Yılmaz
Succeeded byMesut Yılmaz
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
21 July 1977 – 5 January 1978
serving alongside Alparslan Türkeş
Prime MinisterSüleyman Demirel
Preceded byOrhan Eyüboğlu
Succeeded byOrhan Eyüboğlu
In office
31 March 1975 – 21 June 1977
serving alongside Turhan Feyzioğlu and Alparslan Türkeş
Prime MinisterSüleyman Demirel
Preceded byZeyyat Baykara
Succeeded byOrhan Eyüboğlu
In office
26 January 1974 – 17 November 1974
Prime MinisterBülent Ecevit
Preceded bySadi Koçaş
Succeeded byZeyyat Baykara
Leader of the Felicity Party
In office
17 October 2010 – 27 February 2011
Preceded byNuman Kurtulmuş
Succeeded byMustafa Kamalak
In office
11 May 2003 – 30 January 2004
Preceded byRecai Kutan
Succeeded byRecai Kutan
Leader of the Welfare Party
In office
11 October 1987 – 19 January 1998
Preceded byAhmet Tekdal
Succeeded byParty abolished
Leader of the National Salvation Party
In office
20 October 1973 – 12 September 1980
Preceded bySüleyman Arif Emre
Succeeded byParty abolished
Leader of the National Order Party
In office
26 January 1970 – 20 May 1971
Preceded byParty established
Succeeded byParty abolished
(Süleyman Arif Emre as leader of the National Salvation Party)
Member of the Grand National Assembly
In office
6 November 1991 – 22 February 1998
ConstituencyKonya (1991, 1995)
In office
12 October 1969 – 12 September 1980
ConstituencyKonya (1969, 1973, 1977)
Personal details
Born(1926-10-29)29 October 1926
Sinop, Turkey
Died27 February 2011(2011-02-27) (aged 84)
Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey
Political partyNational Order Party (1970–71)
National Salvation Party (1972–1981)
Welfare Party (1987–1998)
Virtue Party (1998–2001)
Felicity Party (2003–2011)
Nermin Saatçioğlu
(m. 1967; died 2005)
Alma materIstanbul High School
Istanbul Technical University
RWTH Aachen University

The political ideology and movement founded by Erbakan, Millî Görüş, argues that Turkey can develop with its own power by protecting its religious values and moving forward with faster steps by rivaling the Western countries in favor of closer relations to Muslim countries.[3] With the Millî Görüş ideology, Erbakan was the founder and leader of several prominent Islamic political parties in Turkey from the 1970s to the 2010s, namely the National Order Party (MNP), the National Salvation Party (MSP), the Welfare Party (RP), the Virtue Party (FP), and the Felicity Party (SP).

Early life and education


Erbakan was born in Sinop, at the coast of Black Sea in northern Turkey.[4] His father was Mehmet Sabri, a judge from the prominent Kozanoğlu family of Cilicia and his mother Kamer was a Circassian from a known family in Sinop[5][6] and the second wife of Mehmet Sabri.[7]

After high school education in Istanbul High School, he graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Faculty at the Istanbul Technical University in 1948, and received a PhD degree in mechanical/engine engineering from the RWTH Aachen University.[4] After returning to Turkey, Erbakan became lecturer at the İTÜ and was appointed professor in 1965 at the same university.[4] After working some time in leading positions in the industry, he switched over to politics, and was elected deputy of Konya in 1969.[4] He was a member of the Community of İskenderpaşa, a Turkish sufistic community of the Naqshbandi tariqah.[8]

Political activities


One of the leading names in Turkish politics for decades, Erbakan was the leader of a series of Islamic political parties that he founded or inspired. These parties rose to prominence only to be banned by Turkey's secular authorities. In the 1970s, Erbakan was chairman of the National Salvation Party which, at its peak, served in coalition government with the Republican People's Party of Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit during the Cyprus crisis of 1974.

In the wake of the 1980 military coup, Erbakan and his party were banned from politics.[4] He reemerged following a referendum to lift the ban in 1987 and became the leader of the Welfare Party.[4] His party benefited in the 1990s from the acrimony between the leaders of Turkey's two most prominent conservative parties, Mesut Yılmaz and Tansu Çiller, leading his party to a surprise success in the general elections of 1995.

Since the tensions between the military and the Islamists led to a civil war in Algeria, Erbakan said "Turkey will not turn into Algeria" in 1992[9] and 1997.[10] But on 10 May 1997 Welfare Party Şanlıurfa MP İbrahim Halil Çelik threatened that "If you try to close the İmam Hatip schools, blood will be spilled. It would be worse than Algeria."[11] Erbakan and his associates developed ties with the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria and when Erbakan visited the American Muslim Council in October 1994, he engaged with FIS representatives.[12]



After the short premiership of Mesut Yılmaz after the 1995 elections collapsed in 1996 due to a censure motion by the Welfare Party, Erbakan became the prime minister in coalition with Çiller's True Path Party (DYP). As prime minister, he attempted to further Turkey's relations with the Arab nations.[4] In addition to trying to follow an economic welfare program, which was supposedly intended to increase welfare among Turkish citizens, the government tried to implement a multi-dimensional political approach to relations with the neighboring countries. The coalition government received criticism for Erbakan's foreign policy. When Erbakan went on an African tour, visiting Egypt, Nigeria, and Libya, his passiveness toward the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, angered even his own constituents back home. Erbakan appeared passive in the face of Gaddafi's reprimands that Turkey's Israel-friendly foreign policy was proof that the imperialists powers had placed it "under occupation" and that Turks had lost their "national will". Gaddafi also lambasted Turkey for its Kurdish policy during this joint press conference with Erbakan, greatly embarrassing the Turkish prime minister.[13] This public browbeating did not play well at home. Despite these reactions, Erbakan maintained his pro-Islamist foreign-policy focus, hewing to his National Outlook origins. He suggested an Islamic security organization to rival NATO, as well as an Islamic currency called the dinar. Deeply alarmed, the military established an initiative called the "Western Working Group", tasked with monitoring the party's activities.[14]

Erbakan's image was damaged by his famous speech making fun of the nightly demonstrations against the Susurluk scandal. He was widely blamed at the time for his indifference. The Turkish military gradually increased the urgency[clarification needed] and frequency of its public warnings to Erbakan's government, eventually prompting Erbakan to step down in 1997. At the time there was a formal rotation deal between Erbakan and Tansu Çiller, the leaders of the coalition — Erbakan was to act as the prime minister for a certain period (a fixed amount of time, which was not publicized), then he would step down in favour of Çiller. However, Çiller's party was the third-largest in the parliament, and when Erbakan stepped down, President Süleyman Demirel asked Mesut Yılmaz, leader of the second-largest party, to form a new government instead.[15][16][17]



In an unprecedented move, Erbakan's ruling Welfare Party was subsequently banned by the courts, which held that the party had an agenda to promote Islamic fundamentalism in the state, and Erbakan was barred once again from active politics.[18] He had argued that a truly democratic country should not shut down a political party for its beliefs. He was tried and sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment in the so-called Lost Trillion Case, which involved the use of forged documents to prevent the return of Treasury grants in the amount of around one trillion old Turkish lira, $3.3MM in today's currency[when?], following the ban of the party in 1997.[19][20]

Despite often being under political ban, Erbakan nonetheless acted as a mentor and informal advisor to former Welfare Party members who founded the Virtue Party in 1997, among them being the future Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Virtue Party was found unconstitutional in 2001 and forcibly banned; by that time, Erbakan's ban on political activities had ended, and he founded the Felicity Party, of which he was the leader in 2003–2004 and again from 2010[21] until his death.


Grave of Necmettin Erbakan and his family at Merkezefendi Cemetery in Istanbul

Erbakan died on 27 February 2011 at 11:40 local time of heart failure at Güven Hospital in Çankaya, Ankara.[22][23][24] His body was transferred to Istanbul, and following the religious funeral service at the Fatih Mosque, the attending crowd accompanied his coffin the about 4 km (2.5 mi) way to the Merkezefendi Cemetery, where he was laid to rest beside his wife Nermin. He did not wish a state funeral, however his funeral was attended by highest state and government officials.[25]



Erbakan's ideology is set forth in a manifesto, entitled Millî Görüş (National View), which he published in 1969.[4] The organisation of the same name, which he founded and of which he was the leader, upholds nowadays that the word "national" is to be understood in the sense of monotheistic ecumenism.[26][27] According to The Economist, at his death Erbakan was acknowledged as a moderating force on Turkey's Islamists, and made Turkey as a possible model for the Arab world as well.[28]

His foreign policy had two main pillars: Pan-Islamism, and struggle against Zionism. He created "D-8" or The Developing Eight, to achieve an economic and political unity among Muslim countries. It has eight members, including Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

Although a rigorous Islamist and avid opposer of secularism, Erbakan developed a friendship with Jean-Marie Le Pen, due to their shared belief that European and Islamic civilization were incompatible and their similar right-wing ideologies.[29][30]


  1. ^ Ex-Turkish PM sentenced BBC. March 2000
  2. ^ Turkey Bans Islamists BBC. January 1998
  3. ^ Ömer BAYKAL; Ömer ÇAHA. "Milli Görüş Hareketinin Kuruluşu: Türk Siyasetinde Milli Nizam Partisi Deneyimi". DergiPark. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "85 yıllık yaşamından kesitler" (in Turkish). 27 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Necmettin Erbakan kimdir?: Siyasi mirası paylaşılamayan 'mücahit'". T24 (in Turkish). Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  6. ^ "Ölümünün 10. yılında Necmettin Erbakan: Siyasi mirası paylaşılamayan 'mücahit'". BBC News Türkçe (in Turkish). 27 February 2020. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  7. ^ Prof. Dr. Necmettin Erbakan'in soyu ve dogumu Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Radikal: "Nakşibendi şeyhi öldü – Nakşibendi tarikatının ünlü kollarından İskender Paşa cemaatinin şeyhi Coşan, Avustralya'da trafik kazasında yaşamını yitirdi. Aynı kazada ölen Uyarel, şeyhin olası haleflerinden sayılıyordu" 5 Şubat 2001
  9. ^ "'Türkiye, Cezayir Olmaz'". Milliyet. 7 November 1992.
  10. ^ "Erbakan: Türkiye Cezayir olmaz". Milliyet (in Turkish). 14 May 1997. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  11. ^ Armutçu, Oya (17 November 1997). "Erbakan tutuklanabilir". Hürriyet. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  12. ^ Robins, Philip (1997). "Turkish foreign policy under Erbakan". Survival. 39 (2): 82–100. doi:10.1080/00396339708442913.
  13. ^ "Kaddafi: Türkiye'nin hava sahası neden açık?". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  14. ^ Cagaptay, Soner (20 February 2020). The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-83860-060-0.
  15. ^ Faulkner, Thomas (28 February 2011). "Necmettin Erbakan obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2021. From early 1996 until the middle of 1997, Erbakan was prime minister and the Welfare party ruled Turkey, its rural and religious style provoking a strong reaction from much of the metropolitan middle class and the military. In February 1997, the military sent tanks into an Islamist town near Ankara and issued a set of demands. Erbakan decided to step down and allow the junior partner in the coalition to lead the government. But he was wrongfooted when Demirel, now president of the republic, appointed the leader of a third party as prime minister.
  16. ^ Couturier, Kelly (19 June 1997). "TURKISH PREMIER QUITS UNDER ARMY PRESSURE". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  17. ^ Couturier, Kelly (21 June 1997). "SECULARIST ASKED TO FORM NEW TURKISH GOVERNMENT". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  18. ^ "Turkish party given another week to justify existence". BBC News. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Leaders of now-defunct Welfare Party stand trial for fraud". Hürriyet Daily News. 9 February 1999. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  20. ^ "Former President Gül testifies to prosecutors in 'lost trillion case'". Today's Zaman. 19 November 2014. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  21. ^ "84-year-old Erbakan elected Felicity Party leader". Today's Zaman. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Necmettin Erbakan vefat etti". Ntvmsnbc (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  23. ^ "Necmettin Erbakan: Politician who served as Turkey's first Islamist". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  24. ^ Tergut, Pelin (14 December 2011). "A Fond Farewell for Necmettin Erbakan". Time. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  25. ^ "Erbakan son yolculuğuna uğurlandı 2011-03-01". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  26. ^ Statement of the IGMG Archived 20 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine (Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görüş e. V.) to the 2002 report of the German State Office for the Protection of the Constitution of North Rhine-Westphalia (in German)
  27. ^ Wer ist Milli Görüs? (Who is Milli Görüs?), German daily Die Tageszeitung, 7 May 2004 (in German)
  28. ^ "Erbakan's legacy". The Economist. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  29. ^ "Necmettin Erbakan". The Telegraph. 10 April 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  30. ^ "Fransız sağının güçlü ismi Le Pen: Erbakan sivri zekâlı bir stratejist". Milli Gazete (in Turkish). 17 July 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
Political offices
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
28 January 1974 – 17 November 1974
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Zeyyat Baykara
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
31 March 1975 – 21 June 1977
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Turan Güneş
Orhan Eyüboğlu
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
21 July 1977 – 5 January 1978
Succeeded by
Orhan Eyüboğlu
Preceded by Prime Minister of Turkey
28 June 1996 – 30 June 1997
Succeeded by
Mesut Yılmaz
Party political offices
New political party Leader of the National Order Party (MNP)
26 January 1970 – 20 May 1971
Party banned
Preceded by Leader of the National Salvation Party (MSP)
20 October 1973 – 12 September 1980
Party banned
Preceded by Leader of the Welfare Party (RP)
11 October 1987 – 16 January 1998
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Felicity Party (SP)
11 May 2003 – 30 January 2004
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Felicity Party (SP)
17 October 2010 – 27 February 2011
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey
25 May 1969 – 8 August 1969
Succeeded by