Republican People's Party

The Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, pronounced [dʒumhuːɾiˈjet haɫk 'paɾtisi] (listen), acronymized as CHP [dʒeːheːpeˑ]) is a Kemalist and social-democratic political party in Turkey which currently stands as the main opposition party.[11][7] It is also the oldest political party in Turkey, founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president and founder of the modern Turkish Republic. The party is also cited as the founding party of modern Turkey.[12] The CHP describes itself as a ''modern social-democratic party, which is faithful to the founding principles and values of the Republic of Turkey".[13][14] Its logo consists of the Six Arrows, which represent the foundational principles of Kemalism: republicanism, reformism, laicism (Laïcité/Secularism), populism, nationalism, and statism. It is the main opposition party to the ruling conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Grand National Assembly with 135 MPs.

Republican People's Party
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi
LeaderKemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Secretary-GeneralSelin Sayek Böke
SpokespersonFaik Öztrak
FounderMustafa Kemal Atatürk
  • 7 September 1919 (1919-09-07) (as a resistance organisation)
  • 9 September 1923 (1923-09-09) (as a political party)
  • 9 September 1992 (1992-09-09) (re-establishment)
Preceded byCommittee of Union and Progress[1][2][3]
Association for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia
HeadquartersAnadolu Bulvarı No: 12,
Çankaya, Ankara
Student wingHalk-Lis (Halkçı Liseliler)
Youth wingCHP Youth
Women's wingCHP Kadın Kolları
NGOAtatürkist Thought Association (unofficial)
SODEV (unofficial)
Membership (2022)Increase 1,369,430[4]
Political positionCentre-left[9]
National affiliationNation Alliance
European affiliationParty of European Socialists (associate)
International affiliationProgressive Alliance[10]
Socialist International
Colours  Red
Slogan"People First, Unity First, Turkey First!"
Grand National Assembly
135 / 600
Metropolitan municipalities
11 / 30
District municipalities
241 / 1,351
Provincial councilors
184 / 1,251
Municipal Assemblies
4,638 / 20,498
Election symbol
CHP six arrows.svg
The Six Arrows
Party flag
Flag of the Republican People's Party
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The political party has its origins in the various resistance groups founded during the Turkish War of Independence. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk they united in the 1919 Sivas Congress. On 9 September 1923, the "People's Party" declared itself to be a political organisation and on 29 October 1923, announced the establishment of the Turkish Republic, with Atatürk as its first president. In 1924, the People's Party renamed itself the "Republican People's Party". As Turkey moved into its one-party period, the CHP was the apparatus of implementing far reaching political, cultural, social, and economic reforms in the country.

After World War II, Atatürk's successor, İsmet İnönü, allowed for multi-party elections, and the party initiated a peaceful transition of power after losing the 1950 election, ending the one-party period and starting Turkey's multi-party period. The years following the 1960 military coup saw the party gradually trend towards the center-left, which was cemented once Bülent Ecevit became chairman in 1972. The CHP, along with all other political parties of the time, was banned by the military junta of 1980. The CHP was re-established with its original name and a more centrist outlook by Deniz Baykal on 9 September 1992, with the participation of a majority of its members from the pre-1980 period. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has returned the party back to its traditional centre-left position when he took over in 2011.

It is a founding party of the Nation Alliance,[15] a coalition consisting of opposition parties like the Good Party, Felicity Party, and Democrat Party against the ruling AKP and their People’s Alliance.[16] In addition, CHP is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES), a member of the Socialist International,[17] and the Progressive Alliance. Many politicians of CHP have declared their support for LGBT rights[18][19][20] and the feminist movement in Turkey. The party continues its Pro-European policies and commitment to NATO.

The party's base includes the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar workers, retired generals, government bureaucrats, academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals, labour unions such as DİSK, and Alevis.[21] The party's strongholds include the Western Aegean region (İzmir, Aydın, Muğla), Thrace, the east of the Black Sea Region (Ardahan and Artvin), and the Anatolian college town of Eskişehir.[22]


The Republican People's Party has its origins in the resistance organizations, known as Defence of Rights Associations, created in the immediate aftermath of World War I in the Turkish War of Independence. In the Sivas Congress, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Atatürk) and his colleagues united the Defence of Rights Associations into the Association for the Defence of National Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia (Anadolu ve Rumeli Müdâfaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti) (ADNRAR), and called for elections in the Ottoman Empire to elect representatives associated with the organization to the Commmittee of Representation. The Committee of Representation soon moved to Ankara and formed the Grand National Assembly as a counter parliament from the Ottoman government in Istanbul. Grand National Assembly forces militarily defeated Greece, France, and Armenia, overthrew the Ottoman government, and abolished the monarchy. After the 1923 election, ADNRAR was transformed into a political party called the People's Party (Halk Fırkası). Because of the unanimity of the new parliament, the republic was proclaimed, the Treaty of Lausanne was ratified, and the Caliphate was abolished the next year.[23]

In 1924, opposition to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk resulted in the foundation of the Progressive Republican Party (TCF). Reacting to the foundation of the TCF, his People's Party changed its name to the Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Fırkası, soon Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) (CHP). The life of the TCF was short. The TCF faced allegations of involvement in the Sheikh Said rebellion and for conspiring with members of the Committee of Union and Progress to assassinate Atatürk in the İzmir Affair. Because of this, it was closed on 5 June by the government. From 1925 until 1946, Turkey was under one-party rule, with one interruption; another brief experiment of opposition politics through the formation of the Liberal Republican Party.

In the period of 1925–1930, the CHP introduced sweeping reforms transforming Turkey into a modern state. In the period of 1930–1939, Atatürk's CHP clarified its ideology by adopting the 'Six Arrows', as well as borrowing tenants from Communism and Fascism.[24] It was during the one-party period that Inspectorates-General, Independence Tribunals, and military force were employed by Atatürk to suppress opposition to his nationalist reforms, at the expense of religious conservatives and Kurds. In the parties third convention, the party clarified their approach towards the religious minorities of the Christians and the Jews, accepting them as real Turks as long as they adhere to the national ideal and use the Turkish language.[25] On 12 November 1938, the day after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's death, his ally İsmet İnönü was elected the second president[26] and assumed leadership of the Republican People's Party. İnönü's presidency saw the annexation of the Hatay State and the establishment of Village Institutes. İnönü adopted a policy of neutrality despite attempts by the Allies and Axis powers to bring Turkey into World War II. The party was associated with anti-communism.[27][28][29]

In the aftermath of World War II, İnönü called for a multi-party general election in 1946 – the first multi-party election in the country's history. The Motion with Four Signatures resulted in the resignation of some CHP members who then founded the Democrat Party (DP), which challenged the party in the election. The result was a victory for the CHP, which won 395 of the 465 seats, amid criticism that the election did not live up to democratic standards. However, four years later, a more free and fair general election was held in 1950 that led to the CHP losing power to the DP. İnönü presided over a peaceful transition of power. The 1950 election marked the end of the CHP's last majority government. The party has not been able to regain a parliamentary majority in any subsequent election since.[30]

Due to the winner-take-all system in place during the 1950s, the DP achieved landslide victories in elections that were reasonably close, meaning the CHP was in opposition for 10 years. In its ninth congress in 1951, the youth branch and the women's branch were founded. In 1953, the establishment of trade unions and vocational chambers was proposed, and the right to strike for workers was added to the party program. The Democrat Party was abolished after the 1960 military coup, and Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged in the İmralı island prison. Right-wing parties have since continuously attacked the CHP for their perceived involvement in the hanging of Adnan Menderes.[31]

With electoral law reform implementing proportional representation, the CHP emerged as the first-placed party at the general election of 1961, and formed a grand coalition with the Justice Party, a successor-party to the Democrat Party. This was the first coalition government in Turkey, which endured for seven-months. İnönü was able to form two more governments with other parties until the 1965 election. Bülent Ecevit, leader of the Democratic Left movement in the CHP, contributed to the party adopting the Left of Centre (Ortanın solu) programme for that election.[32] İnönü remained as opposition leader and the leader of the CHP until 8 May 1972, when he was overthrown as party leader by Ecevit in a party congress. Ecevit adopted a distinct left wing role in politics and, although remaining staunchly nationalist, attempted to implement democratic socialism into the ideology of CHP. Support for the party increased when Ecevit became prime minister in 1974 and invaded Cyprus. The CHP achieved its best ever result in a free and fair multi-party election under Ecevit, when in 1977, the party received 41% of the vote. The 1970s featured constant changes in government between the CHP and the Justice Party, as well as intense political violence. This resulted in a military coup in 1980, and the banning of every political party in the aftermath.[33]

After the 1980 military coup, pre-1980 politicians were imprisoned and banned from politics, and both the name "Republican People's Party" and the abbreviation of "CHP" were banned. Until 1999, Turkey was ruled by the centre-right Motherland Party (ANAP) and the True Path Party (DYP), unofficial successors of the Democrat Party and the Justice Party, as well as, briefly, by the Islamic Welfare Party. CHP supporters also established successor parties. By 1985, Erdal İnönü, İsmet İnönü's son, consolidated two successor parties to form the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP), while the Democratic Left Party (Turkish: Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP) was formed by Rahşan Ecevit, Bülent Ecevit's wife (Bülent Ecevit took over the DSP in 1987). After the ban on pre-1980 politicians was lifted in 1987, Deniz Baykal refounded the CHP in 1992, and the SHP merged with the party in 1995. However, Ecevit's DSP remained separate, and to this day has not merged with the reformed Republican People's Party.[34] While Baykal's CHP was more centrist compared to Ecevit's DSP, observers noted that the two parties held similar ideologies and split the Kemalist vote. From 1991 to 1996, the SHP and then the CHP were in coalition governments with the DYP. The CHP supported Mesut Yılmaz's coalition government after the collapse of the Welfare-DYP coalition following the 28 February "post-modern coup." However, due to the Türkbank scandal, the CHP withdrew its support and helped depose the government with a no confidence vote. Ecevit's DSP formed an interim-government, during which the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in Kenya. As such, in the election of 1999, the DSP benefited massively in the polls at the expense of CHP, and the party failed to exceed the 10% threshold (8.7% vote), not winning any seats.

In the 2002 general election, the CHP came back with 20% of the vote but 32% of the seats in parliament, as only it and the new AKP (Justice and Development Party) received above the 10% threshold to enter parliament. With the collapse of DSP, CHP has been Turkey's main Kemalist and center-left party. It also became the second largest party and the main opposition party, a position it has retained since. Since the dramatic 2002 election, the CHP has been racked by internal power struggles, and has been outclassed by the AKP governments of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Many on the left were critical of the leadership of CHP, especially Baykal, who they complained was stifling the party of young blood by turning away the young who turn either to apathy or even vote for the AKP. Between 2002 and 2010, Turkey held three general elections and two local elections, all of which the CHP received between 18-23% of the vote. On 10 May 2010, Deniz Baykal announced his resignation as leader of the Republican People's Party after a clandestinely made video tape of him sitting on a bed with a woman was leaked to the media.[35] Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was elected to be the new party leader, and returned the party back to its traditional centre-left position. However even with Kılıçdaroğlu at the helm, after four general elections the CHP has still not won an election, receiving between only 22 and 26% of the vote in parliamentary elections. CHP and MHP's joint candidate for the 2014 presidential election Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu lost to Erdoğan with only 38% of the vote.

Party's performance in the 2019 Turkish local elections by province.

In the 2018 general election the CHP, Good Party, Felicity, and Democrat Party established the Nation Alliance to challenge the AKP and MHP's People's Alliance. Though CHP's vote was reduced to 22%, strategic voting for the other parties yielded the alliance 33% of the vote. Their candidate for president: Muharrem İnce, received only 30% of the vote. The Nation Alliance was re-established for the 2019 local elections, which saw great gains for the CHP, capturing nearly 30% of the electorate and the municipal mayoralties of İstanbul and Ankara. Some consider their new respective mayors Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş possible candidates for the upcoming 2023 presidential election. Kılıçdaroğlu and his counterpart in the Good Party Meral Akşener continue a close cooperation as leaders of opposition parties, and the two parties are gaining in the polls due to the ongoing economic crisis and government mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Party headquarters in Ankara, showing a banner urging a "no" vote in the 2017 referendum on establishing a presidential system.

The Republican People's Party is a centre-left political party that draws its support from professional middle-class secular and liberally religious voters. It has traditional ties to the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar workers, retired generals, and government bureaucrats as well as academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals and labour unions such as DİSK.[21] The distance between the party administration and many leftist grassroots, especially left-oriented Kurdish voters, contributed to the party's shift away from the political left.[36] Leftists still criticize the party's continuous opposition to the removal of Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which caused people to be prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness" including Elif Şafak and Nobel Prize winner author Orhan Pamuk, its conviction of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, its attitude towards minorities in Turkey, as well as its Cyprus policy.

The CHP draws much of their support from voters of big cities and coastal regions. The party's strongholds are the west of the Aegean Region (İzmir, Aydın, Muğla), the northwest of the Marmara Region (Turkish Thrace; Edirne, Kırklareli, Tekirdağ, Çanakkale), the east of the Black Sea Region (Ardahan and Artvin), and the Anatolian college town of Eskişehir.

The party also appeals to minority groups such as Alevis. According to The Economist, "to the dismay of its own leadership the CHP’s core constituency, as well as most of its MPs, are Alevis."[37] The party's leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, is also an Alevi himself.[38]

The party holds a significant position in the Socialist International, Progressive Alliance and is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists. In 2014 the CHP urged the Socialist International to accept the Republican Turkish Party of Northern Cyprus as a full member.[39]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey and the current economic crisis,[40] polls indicate the party and its alliance has been seeing increasing support, especially among youth.[41][42][43][44][45]

Internal caucusesEdit

CHP has several internal caucuses.[46]

  • Kılıçdaroğlu group (Kılıçdaroğlu grubu), a caucus that is in favor of Nation Alliance and leadership of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
  • 10 December Movement (10 Aralık Hareketi), a caucus founded by former DİSK secretary Süleyman Çelebi to create an alternative "new party". It defends social democracy and federalism, while opposing Kemalism and unitarism within the party. They have included ÖDP, SHP, DSP and independent left candidates in their tickets.[47]
  • İnce group (İnce grubu), a caucus that endorsed Muharrem İnce's presidential candidacy and opposition within the party. It includes Kemalist and Ulusalcı circles. In 2021 Muharrem İnce broke away from the CHP, and founded the Homeland Party.
  • Baykal group (Baykal grubu), a caucus that is founded by names loyal to Deniz Baykal. It lost its significance due to Baykal's stagnating health.
  • Left Wing for the Future (Gelecek İçin Sol Kanat), a left-populist caucus that aims to build "new left politics" within the party. It includes social democrat and democratic socialist groups within, and integrates ideas like participatory democracy, anti-militarism and anti-imperialism to mainstream republicanism. On 1 July 2021, We for the Future group decided to merge with another internal caucus, the 'Left Wing'. The name of the new group has been announced as 'Left Wing for the Future'.[48]
  • Youth group (Gençler grubu), the caucus that is founded by young central committee members to target the youth. It pushes a centrist agenda within the party.

Historical leadersEdit

No. Name
Portrait Term in Office
1 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
  9 September 1923 10 November 1938
2 İsmet İnönü
  26 December 1938 8 May 1972
3 Bülent Ecevit
  14 May 1972 30 October 1980
Party closed down following the 12 September 1980 coup d'état
4 Deniz Baykal
  9 September 1992 18 February 1995
5 Hikmet Çetin
  18 February 1995 9 September 1995
(4) Deniz Baykal
  9 September 1995 23 May 1999
6 Altan Öymen
  23 May 1999 30 September 2000
(4) Deniz Baykal
  30 September 2000 10 May 2010
7 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
  22 May 2010 Incumbent

Election resultsEdit

General electionsEdit

General election record of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
     0–10%         10–20%         20–30%         30–40%         40–50%         50–60%         60–70%
Election Leader Vote Seats Changes Result Outcome Map
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
335 / 335
  3 1st
Majority government
287 / 317
  48 1st
Majority government
401 / 428
  114 1st
Majority government
İsmet İnönü
unknown / 470 1st
Majority government
1943 unknown / 492 1st
Majority government
397 / 503
  73 1st
Majority government
1950 3,176,561
69 / 492
  328 39.45% 2nd
Main opposition
1954 3,161,696
31 / 537
  38 35.36%
  4.09 pp
Main opposition
1957 3,753,136
178 / 602
 147 41.09%
  4.73 pp
Main opposition
1961 3,724,752
173 / 450
  5 36.74%
  4.35 pp
Minority government
1965 2,675,785
134 / 450
  39 28.75%
  7.99 pp
Main opposition
1969 2,487,163
143 / 450
  9 27.37%
  1.38 pp
Main opposition
Bülent Ecevit
185 / 450
  42 33.30%
  5.93 pp
Minority government
1977 Turkish general election  
213 / 450
  28 41.38%
  8.09 pp
Minority government
6 November 1983 Party closed following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état and succeeded by the Populist Party (1983–85), the Social Democracy Party (1983-85) and the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) in 1985 after the latter two parties merged. The CHP was re-established in 1992 by dissident SHP members after banned political parties were allowed to re-establish, with the SHP and CHP merging in 1995.
29 October 1987
20 October 1991
24 December 1995  
Deniz Baykal
49 / 550
  49 10.71%
  10.71 pp
In opposition
18 April 1999  
0 / 550
  49 8.71%
  2.00 pp
Not in parliament
3 November 2002  
178 / 550
  178 19.39%
  10.68 pp
Main opposition
22 July 2007  
112 / 550
  66 20.88%
  1.50 pp
Main opposition
12 June 2011  
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
135 / 550
  23 25.98%
  5.10 pp
Main opposition
7 June 2015  
132 / 550
  3 24.95%
  1.03 pp
Main opposition
1 November 2015  
134 / 550
  2 25.32%
  0.37 pp
Main opposition
24 June 2018  
146 / 600
  12 22.64%
  2.68 pp
Main opposition

Presidential electionsEdit

Presidential election record of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
Election Candidate Votes % Outcome Map
10 August 2014  
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu
Cross-party with MHP
15,587,720 38.44% 2nd  
24 June 2018  
Muharrem İnce
15,340,321 30.64% 2nd  

Senate electionsEdit

Election date Party leader Number of votes received Percentage of votes Number of senators
1961 İsmet İnönü 3,734,285 36,1% 36
1964 İsmet İnönü 1,125,783 40,8% 19
1966 İsmet İnönü 877,066 29,6% 13
1968 İsmet İnönü 899,444 27,1% 13
1973 Bülent Ecevit 1,412,051 33,6% 25
1975 Bülent Ecevit 2,281,470 43,4% 25
1977 Bülent Ecevit 2,037,875 42,4% 28
1979 Bülent Ecevit 1,378,224 29,1% 12

Local electionsEdit

Election date Party leader Provincial council votes Percentage of votes Number of municipalities
1963 İsmet İnönü 3,458,972 36,22% No data
1968 İsmet İnönü 2,542,644 27,90% No data
1973 Bülent Ecevit 3,708,687 37,09% No data
1977 Bülent Ecevit 5,161,426 41,73% No data
1994 Deniz Baykal 1,297,371 4,61% 64
1999 Deniz Baykal 3,487,483 11,08% 373
2004 Deniz Baykal 5,848,180 18,38% 392
2009 Deniz Baykal 9,233,662 23,11% 499[49]
2014 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 10,938,262 26,34% 232
2019 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 12,625,346 29,36% 241

See alsoEdit


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  43. ^ "CHP'nin oyları yükseliyor!". Yurt Gazetesi (in Turkish). Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  44. ^ "Metropoll'den gündeme damga vuracak 'Z kuşağı' anketi: 'Kararsız', 'protesto oy' ve 'cevap yok' şıkkına yüklendiler". (in Turkish). 5 July 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  45. ^ "Turkey's Generation Z: A Youth Challenge to Erdoğan". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  46. ^ "CHP içinde hangi gruplar ne için mücadele veriyor?".
  47. ^ "Kurultay yaklaşırken CHP'de hangi isimler ve gruplar etkin?". 26 November 2019.
  48. ^ "CHP içindeki iki sol grup birleşti, 'Gelecek İçin Sol Kanat' adını aldı".
  49. ^ Seçim 2005[permanent dead link], ntvmsnbc

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