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Mustafa Bülent Ecevit

In office
January 11, 1999 – November 18, 2002
Preceded by Mesut Yılmaz
Succeeded by Abdullah Gül
In office
January 5, 1978 – November 12, 1979
Preceded by Süleyman Demirel
Succeeded by Süleyman Demirel
In office
June 21, 1977 – July 21, 1977
Preceded by Süleyman Demirel
Succeeded by Süleyman Demirel
In office
January 26, 1974 – November 17, 1974
Preceded by Naim Talu
Succeeded by Sadi Irmak

Born 28 May 1925(1925-05-28)
Died 5 November 2006 (aged 81)
Political party DSP, CHP
Spouse(s) Rahşan Ecevit
Religion Muslim

Mustafa Bülent Ecevit (May 28, 1925, Istanbul – November 5, 2006, Ankara) was a Turkish politician, poet, writer and journalist, who was the leader of Republican People's Party (CHP), later of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and four-time Prime Minister of Turkey[1] .


Personal life

Born in Ankara, Ecevit's father was Ahmet Fahri Ecevit who was born in Kastamonu and was a professor of forensic medicine at Ankara University. Later Ahmet Fahri started his political life as CHP's Kastamonu deputy between 1943-1950. His mother, Fatma Nazlı, was born in Istanbul and was among the first women in Turkey to paint professionally.[2] In 1944, Ecevit graduated from Robert College in Istanbul and later from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies,[3] and then started working as a translator in the Press Publication Head Office (Basın Yayın Genel Müdürlüğü). He married his classmate Rahşan Aral in 1946. He went to the United States in the mid–1950s on a State Department fellowship, and worked at two newspapers in North Carolina.[2]

Political life

Ecevit was elected into the Turkish parliament for the first time in 1957. He was a member of the parliament between 1960 and 1961. Ecevit served as the Minister of Labour between 1961 and 1965, contributing to the acceptance of the right to strike and collective agreement. In 1966 he became the secretary general of the Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP). In 1971 he resigned from the post as a protest to the party decision to support the transitional government established by a military intervention.

In 1972, he succeeded İsmet İnönü as the leader of the party and became Prime Minister in a coalition with the National Salvation Party of Necmettin Erbakan. This government is most noted for ordering a military intervention in Cyprus on July 20, 1974; in response to a Greek military junta backed coup which had been staged by the Cypriot National Guard[4][5] led by Nikos Sampson[6] who deposed the Cypriot president and archbishop Makarios III, with the intention of annexing the island to Greece.[7] The Turkish military intervention came after 11 years of intercommunal violence[5] between the island's Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, resulting from the constitutional breakdown of 1963. The military operation ended in August 1974, when Turkish troops occupied 37% of the island's territory, which was followed by the establishment of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983; and the effective division of the island between the Turkish Cypriot community in the north of the U.N.-controlled Green Line, and the Greek Cypriot community in the south.

Bülent Ecevit recalls that he learned for the first time of the existence of Operation Gladio, a secret "stay-behind" NATO army, in 1974, and has suspected "Counter-Guerrilla", the Turkish branch of Gladio, of being responsible for the May 1, 1977 Taksim Square massacre in Istanbul, during which snipers shot on a protest rally of 500,000 citizens, killing 38 and injuring hundreds. CHP defeated AP at the 1977 general elections by gathering 41% of the votes. This victory was just after the events of May 1 and the victory of CHP was seen as the answer of the left wing of Turkish politics.

Following the 1980 coup led by General Kenan Evren, Ecevit was incarcerated and suspended from active politics for life along with the other political leaders of the time. A referendum in 1987 lifted his ban from politics, and he became the chairman of the Democratic Left Party (Turkish: Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP), inheriting the position from his wife, Rahşan Ecevit. His party failed to enter the National Assembly at the 1987 national elections, and in spite of passing the electoral barrier in 1991 managed to win only 7 seats in parliament. DSP's fortunes changed after the 1995 elections, when the party won 75 seats (out of 550). After two short-lived governments (formed by Mesut Yılmaz and Necmettin Erbakan, respectively), Ecevit became a deputy prime minister in the last government of Mesut Yılmaz. In 1998-99 he was briefly the caretaker Prime Minister in the run-up to the 1999 general elections. In those elections - also helped by the fact that Abdullah Öcalan, head of the separatist (PKK) was apprehended in Kenya and flown to Turkey during this period - Ecevit's party gained the largest number of seats, leading to Ecevit's final term as Prime Minister in a coalition with the Motherland Party (Turkish: Anavatan Partisi, ANAP) of Mesut Yılmaz and the Nationalist Movement Party (Turkish: Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP) of Devlet Bahçeli.

Bülent Ecevit with George W. Bush at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Ecevit's government undertook a number of reforms aimed at stabilizing the Turkish economy in preparation for accession negotiations with the European Union. However, the short-term economic pain brought on by the reforms caused rifts within his coalition and party, and eventually forced new elections in 2002. Ecevit, at this time visibly frail, was unsuccessful in leading his party back into the National Assembly. Ecevit subsequently retired from active politics in 2004.

Bülent Ecevit was not only a politician but also a poet and a writer. He studied Sanskrit, Bengali, and English at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies,[3] and translated works by Rabindranath Tagore, T. S. Eliot, and Bernard Lewis into Turkish. Ecevit, who also studied at the American Robert College, one of the most prestigious high schools in Istanbul, was successful in these literary endeavors despite never having graduated from a university, a fact that also prevented him from ever running for the Presidency of the Turkish Republic.

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

Ecevit was hospitalized at the Gülhane Military Hospital in Ankara and placed in a medically-induced coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on May 18, 2006.[8] He died on November 5, 2006 at 20:40 (UTC) due to respiratory failure without regaining consciousness. He was laid to rest in the Turkish State Cemetery (Turkish: Devlet Mezarlığı) in Ankara with a state funeral on November 11, 2006. The funeral was attended by approximately 1,000,000 people from all 81 provinces.[9]




  • Işığı Taştan Oydum (I Carved Light Out Of Stone) (1978)
  • El Ele Büyüttük Sevgiyi (We Raised Love Hand In Hand) (1997)


  • Ortanın Solu (Left of the Center) (1966)
  • Bu Düzen Değişmelidir (This Order Should Change) (1968)
  • Atatürk ve Devrimcilik (Atatürk and Revolutionism) (1970)
  • Kurultaylar ve Sonrası (Party Congresses and After) (1972)
  • Demokratik Sol ve Hükümet Bunalımı (Democratic Left and Government Crisis) (1974)
  • Demokratik Solda Temel Kavramlar ve Sorunlar (Basic Definitions and Problems in Democratic Left) (1975)
  • Dış Politika (Foreign Policy) (1975)
  • Dünya-Türkiye-Milliyetçilik (World-Turkey-Nationalism) (1975)
  • Toplum-Siyaset-Yönetim (Society-Politics-Government) (1975)
  • İşçi-Köylü El Ele (Workers and Peasants Hand in Hand) (1976)
  • Türkiye / 1965-1975 (Turkey / 1965-1975) (1976)
  • Umut Yılı: 1977 (Year of Hope: 1977) (1977)


  1. ^ . Actually five times.See discussion
  2. ^ a b Kinzer, Stephen (November 6, 2006). "Bülent Ecevit, a Political Survivor Who Turned Turkey Toward the West, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved 2006-11-06.  
  3. ^ a b Turgut, Pelin (2006-11-07). "Bulent Ecevit". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-12-24.  
  4. ^ Solanakis, Mihail. "Operation "Niki" 1974: A suicide mission to Cyprus". Retrieved 2009-06-10.  
  5. ^ a b U.S. Library of Congress - Country Studies - Cyprus - Intercommunal Violence
  6. ^ Mallinson, William (June 30, 2005). Cyprus: A Modern History. I. B. Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 978-1850435808.  
  7. ^ BBC: Turkey urges fresh Cyprus talks (2006-01-24)
  8. ^ Baki, Mehmet (2006-05-25). "Well Wishes for Ecevit Written in Visitors". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 2008-10-22.  
  9. ^ Cevizoğlu, Hulki (11 November 2006), Kanaltürk Evening News.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by

İsmet İnönü
Leader of the Republican’s People Party (CHP)
May 14, 1972–Oct 29, 1980
Succeeded by

1980 Military coup and later Deniz Baykal
Preceded by
Rahşan Ecevit
Leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP)
Sep 13, 1987–1988
Succeeded by
Necdet Karababa
Preceded by
Necdet Karababa
Leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP)
1989–Jul 25, 2004
Succeeded by
Zeki Sezer
Political offices
Preceded by
Naim Talu
Prime Minister of Turkey
Jan 26, 1974–Nov 17, 1974
Succeeded by
Sadi Irmak
Preceded by
Süleyman Demirel
Prime Minister of Turkey
Jun 21, 1977–Jul 21, 1977
Succeeded by
Süleyman Demirel
Preceded by
Süleyman Demirel
Prime Minister of Turkey
Jan 5, 1978–Nov 12, 1979
Succeeded by
Süleyman Demirel
Preceded by
Tansu Çiller
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
Jun 30, 1997–Jan 11, 1999
Succeeded by
Hüsamettin Özkan
Hikmet Uluğbay
Preceded by
Mesut Yılmaz
Prime Minister of Turkey
Jan 11, 1999–Nov 19, 2002
Succeeded by
Abdullah Gül


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