, which had been established only 87 years ago, faced with many problems in its short history and it still continues to struggle against most of these problems today. Although the political history of Turkish Republic consists of near 90 years, this period has witnessed to two world wars, a cold war that separated the world into two blocs, four military interventions and a terrorist group’s bloody activities. Mustafa Bülent Ecevit, a very important figure of Turkish politics starting from the late 1950’s who died few years ago, had influential roles and parts in this period. That is why; analyzing Ecevit’s life and political career is in fact analyzing Turkish politics. This paper aims to make a detailed summary and a critical analysis of journalist Cüneyt Arcayürek’s book “A Freedom Passionate Bülent Ecevit (Bir Özgürlük Tutkunu Bülent Ecevit)”. In order to do that, I am going to give information about the book and the writer. Secondly, I am going to make a detailed summary of the book. Thirdly, I am going to make a critical analysis of the book. Turkish Republic
The book “A Freedom Passionate Bülent Ecevit (Bir Özgürlük Tutkunu Bülent Ecevit)” was published on 2006 by Detay Publishing Company. The writer Cüneyt Arcayürek was born in 1928 and is one of the most famous journalists of
for long years. Arcayürek has been working for decades in Cumhuriyet newspaper and writes articles about daily politics. The writer defends Kemalist-social democratic ideology which surely affects his positive look towards Bülent Ecevit. In addition, Ecevit and Arcayürek had a close friendship passing the limits of politician-journalist distance in the past. That is why Arcayürek has all the knowledge and details about Ecevit’s career but this situation might have overshadowed his objectivity too. The writer has more than 30 books and many journalistic awards. This book is in the memoirs format and consists of 492 pages. There are also interviews with Bülent Ecevit in the book. The book starts to analyze Ecevit’s life and political career from the late 1950’s. Turkey
Arcayürek first saw Ecevit in the early 1950’s in the office of Republican People’s Party’s official journal Ulus, when Ecevit was the assistant of RPP deputy Nihat Erim. Ecevit’s father Fahri Ecevit was an ex-RPP deputy and he requested his friend Nihat Erim to employ his son Bülent who does not want to finish the college (Arcayürek, pp. 16-17). Thus, Bülent Ecevit -without finishing his university education- started to work in Ulus newspaper and become closer to RPP circles and progressive writers and journalists. Ecevit in his youth period was a timid man who is interested in literature and poetry more than politics. He was married to Rahşan Aral, a classmate from
at a very young age. 1950’s witnessed Democrat Party’s electoral successes but also increasing despotic policies against RPP and its supporters. Arcayürek was arrested at this period and Ulus journal was closed down. However, Nihat Erim himself established the journal Yeni Ulus and Arcayürek and Ecevit began to work there. Because of his fluent English, Erim and RPP leader İsmet İnönü was taking help from Bülent Ecevit when they have foreign visitors. When İnönü asked his son-in-law Metin Toker to become a deputy candidate from RPP, Toker suggested Ecevit to replace him (Arcayürek, p. 20). So, Ecevit’s first active engagement into politics started with this offer and Ecevit became a RPP deputy on 1957. 1957-1960 period was very troubled because of increasing polarization in the society and DP’s authoritarian policies. University professors, journalists and intellectuals were arrested because of their criticism towards DP government. 27 May 1960 was mostly welcomed in cities because of the hatred towards DP. The new founding assembly made and legislated the liberal 1961 constitution. RPP and Justice Party (follower of DP) established a coalition and Bülent Ecevit became the minister of Social Security on 1961 (Arcayürek, p. 26). According to Arcayürek, Ecevit’s performance as the Social Security Minister was crucial in his career because his reforms and leftist rhetoric became very popular and he started to be known as a labor-friendly populist politician. In addition, in 1965 RPP declared its leftism from the mouth of İsmet İnönü as the “left of the center” policy (Arcayürek, p. 30). Robert College
Left of the center policy was identified with the young and charismatic minister of the party. However, at the beginning, the policy became unsuccessful. RPP had defeats against JP on 1965 Parliamentary and 1966 Senate elections (Arcayürek, p. 32). JP was using the execution of
Menderes and two DP ministers and was blaming RPP’s left of the center policy as being communist and atheist (Arcayürek, pg.35). At this point, Ecevit was taking the huge support of the press and intelligentsia and that is why İnönü allowed him to become the general secretary of the party. Ecevit by using his powers, now was developing new relations with the university youth, syndicates, civil society organizations etc, was increasing his power and delegate support within the party (Arcayürek, p. 37). His slogans started to become more socialism-oriented. In Ecevit’s view, RPP and Mustafa Kemal were revolutionary and that is why today’s RPP should have also defended revolutionary ideas and a free and equal life for all citizens in a welfare state. He was supporting a land reform project and other socialistic projects by giving examples even from Quran (Arcayürek, p. 40). İnönü day by day became more disturbed of Ecevit’s leftism and tried to control his young secretary general. However, when Turkish Armed Forces published 12 March 1971 memorandum and tried to create a technocratic government, İnönü’s support to military separated his ways with Ecevit. Ecevit was resigned from his post and identified 12 March as a counter movement to RPP’s left of the center policies (Arcayürek, pp. 43-61). In the next congress, Ecevit and left of the centre defenders achieved to defeat the legendary İsmet Pasha and Ecevit became the third president of the RPP after Mustafa Kemal and İsmet İnönü.
At 1973 elections, young RPP showed an increasing performance and took 33,39 % of votes and became the leading party (Arcayürek, p. 69). However, RPP had to make a coalition with another party. Alternatives were few; Justice Party, Nationalist Action Party, National Salvation Party. Ecevit decided to make a coalition with National Salvation Party. This was a turning step in Turkish political history since political Islam began to be influential after this coalition when Erbakan and his followers obtained cadres in different ministries and became more legitimate in the political scene (Arcayürek, p. 70). Although Ecevit seems to be a humble man, according to Arcayürek he was very determinate, ambitious in politics (Arcayürek, p. 81). Ecevit and his young cadre tried to implement bold policies in spite of their coalition partners’ problems. They did not consider
President Nixon’s objections and allowed Turkish farmers to implant poppies again (Arcayürek, p. 90). When a fascist coup took place in the USA and the junta tried to unite Cyprus Republic with Cyprus (enosis), Ecevit by using Greece ’s guarantorship rights started the Cyprus Peace Operation (Arcayürek, p. 87). The operation was successful but Turkey was subjected to huge embargos and economic crises started in the country. Because of Erbakan’s hostile attitudes, RPP-NSP coalition did not work and the first National Front government (JP-NAP-NSP) was established. National Front government was not willingly to prevent the fascist attacks on leftist groups and soon, left-right conflict turned to be an armed clash. Ecevit was claiming that RPP could solve country’s problems but they should establish a single part government to work efficiently. Turkey
At 1977 elections, RPP and Ecevit showed huge successes and they took 41 % votes and 213 seats in TGNA that consisted of 450 seats (Arcayürek, p. 101). However, RPP was still not able to establish the government. So, the second National Front government was established (Arcayürek, p. 109). However, Ecevit was still determinate and he started to make secret meeting with some JP and Republican Trust Party deputies at Güneş Motel (Arcayürek, p. 117). Finally, Ecevit with the support of some independent deputies, some oppositional JP deputies and RTP deputies established RPP government on
5 January 1978 (Arcayürek, p. 119). Turkish people had hopes and they saw Ecevit as their savior, as a folk hero (Karaoğlan) who could solve economic and social problems. Ecevit’s intentions were good but he was not able to solve economic problems and prevent terrorist activities. In Arcayürek’s view, Ecevit had never thought of becoming closer to but it was a fact that he was challenging the West when they were approaching to USSR with double-standard mentality (Arcayürek, p. 122). Left-right clash was turning into an Alavite-Sunni division because of the provocations and in Turkey , Çorum and Kahramanmaraş terrible deeds were happening (Arcayürek, p. 123). Everybody began to expect another military coup but Ecevit was still hopeful and he was thinking of a “reparation government” together with JP to solve these problems. However, Süleyman Demirel was strongly against this idea (Arcayürek, p. 130). At those years, Kurdish secessionism was also on the rise after long years and the state institutions were carefully observing this trend (Arcayürek, p. 133). Ecevit’s government did not last long and a new JP government supported by NAP and NSP was established. However, Sivas 12 September 1980 military coup was approaching… Bülent Ecevit was arrested after military coup and imprisoned for few years. He continued to defend democracy and made important speeches during the trial and his imprisonment. He became the symbol of democracy. And he was cleared from all accusations at the end (Arcayürek, p. 173).
The rest of the book consists of interviews with Ecevit and more contemporary political developments concerning Ecevit after the 12 September 1980 military coup. Now, I am going to start to make a critical analysis of Arcayürek’s book and Ecevit’s political life in the pre-12 September period. First of all, as I stated before Arcayürek was a close friend of Ecevit and a Kemalist-social democratic journalist which could have prevented him to be completely objective in his writings. However, he seems to be objective at least on concrete events. Secondly, Arcayürek’s book is very beneficial but it is a journalistic book lacking political theory and macro explanations for international relations and economic performance of the country. Since Arcayürek is not a university professor, we should read the book as a journalistic book lacking qualified information and theory. Thirdly, although the book consists of memoirs, few observations were made on Ecevit’s personality and psychological situation. That is why, the book could have written in a better way if a psycho-political dimension was added to Ecevit observations. But still, as far as I am concerned the book is very beneficial for a Political Science student in order to learn more about Turkish political history and the development of social democratic movement in
. All important events were recorded and were told by showing some witnesses and sources. That is why; Arcayürek’s book is an example of successful journalism that we do not see often today since the media only tries to praise the JDP government, not criticize it. Turkey
In my opinion, pre-12 September period Ecevit and RPP symbolize a different world where humans had still hopes to defeat
capitalism. However, the situation was very changed after the 12 September regime and especially after the collapse of . Today, free-market economics were accepted everywhere in the world and Ecevit’s projects such as “public sector” and “village cities (köykent)” seem romantic rather than realistic. Ecevit’s idealism is not seen in today’s politics since the things are handled in a more realistic and pragmatic way. In today’s world, nobody cares about inequalities and poverty, and university professors as well as politicians focus on identity problems rather than socioeconomic problems. This trend strengthens ethnic nationalisms and identity problems rather than class-based movements. Even if we look at Ecevit’s political life after 12 September, we could claim that he became a much more pragmatic and neo-liberal and got rid of his idealism of the 1970’s. Ecevit could have many mistakes in the past, but for me one thing was certain; we will absolutely miss his kindness and humbleness especially when we look at today’s politicians who act as elected kings and favor their family members and friends openly. Rest in peace Karaoğlan… USSR
 “Dalga dalga yayılan slogan; “Toprak işleyenin, su kullananın!” oldu” (Arcayürek, p. 39).