Republican People’s Party

Published 26th April, 2011

The Republican People’s Party or CHP was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and was in power until 1950 without interruption. It is now the oldest political party in Turkey and describes itself as a centre-left Kemalist (an ideology best described as promoting a secular nation state) party.

In the 1950 general election the CHP was decimated, being reduced to 69 seats, and in 1954 fell further to 31 seats. By 1961 they had pulled back enough to form a coalition government, something which continued intermittently until 1980.

1980 saw a military coup and all political parties were closed down including the CHP. In 1983 there was a relaxation but parties were not allowed to use their old names, so the CHP reinvented itself into the People Party on 21st May 1983. In that format they came second in the 1983 election. By 1987 they had joined with the Social Democracy party to form the Social Democratic Populist Party and fought the 1987 and 1991 elections in this guise.

By 1995 the CHP were back and came fifth with 49 seats out of 550 in the Turkish parliament. In 1999 the CHP fell below the 10% threshold and were not represented in the parliament for the first time in their history. They were back in second place in 2002 with 19% of the vote and 178 seats.

In 2007 the CHP won 112 seats with 20.85% of the vote.

The CHP are members of Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists.

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