Mustafa Kemal, celebrated by the Turkish State as a Turkish World War I hero and later known as "Ataturk" or "father of the Turks," led the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire and a three-year war of independence. The empire, which at its peak controlled vast stretches of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and western Asia, had failed to keep pace with European social and technological developments. The rise of national consciousness impelled several captive nations to seek to regain lost independence, leading to the empire's fragmentation. This process culminated in the disastrous Ottoman participation in World War I as a German ally. Defeated, shorn of much of its former territory, and partly occupied by forces of the victorious European states, the Ottoman structure was repudiated by Turkish nationalists whom Mustafa Kemal brought together under his tight leadership. The nationalists expelled invading Greek forces from Anatolia after a bitter war. After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey the temporal and religious ruling institutions of the old empire (the sultanate and caliphate) were abolished.
The leaders of the new republic concentrated on consolidating their power and modernizing and Westernizing what had been the empire's core--Anatolia and a small part of Thrace. Social, political, linguistic, and economic reforms and attitudes decreed by Ataturk from 1924-1934 continue to be referred to as the ideological base of modern Turkey. In the post-Ataturk era, and especially after the military coup of 1960, this ideology came to be known as "Kemalism" and his reforms began to be referred to as "revolutions." Kemalism comprises a Turkish form of secularism, strong nationalism, statism, and to a degree a western orientation. The continued validity and applicability of Kemalism are the subject of lively debate in Turkey's political life. The current ruling AK Party comes from a tradition that challenges many of the Kemalist precepts and is driven in its reform efforts by a desire to achieve EU accession.
Turkey did not enter World War II on the Allied side until shortly before the war ended and became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece and resulted in large scale U.S. military and economic aid. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey is currently a European Union candidate.
In the November 2002 election of Turkey’s 58th government, the Justice and Development Party (AK) captured 34.3% of the total votes, making Abdullah Gul Prime Minister, followed by the Republican Peoples Party (CHP) with 19.39% of the vote, led by Deniz Baykal. A special General Election was held again in the province of Siirt in March 2003, resulting in the election of AK’s chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a seat in parliament, allowing him to become prime minister. AK and CHP were the only parties to surpass the 10% threshold required to hold seats in parliament. The elections resulted in 363 of the 550 seats going to AK, 178 seats to CHP, and 9 as independent. Due to a reshuffle in party affiliation, AK holds 367 seats, CHP holds 175 seats, five are independent, and three joined the True Path Party (DYP). In March 2004 nationwide local elections, AKP won 57 of 81 provincial capital municipalities and, with 41.8% of the votes for provincial council seats, consolidated its hold on power.
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