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Bülent Ecevit

Bülent Ecevit.
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Bülent Ecevit. Photo: World Economic Forum.

(1925-) Turkish politician and journalist, prime minister 1974, 1978-1980 and 1998-2002.
Ecevit is a hard-line nationalist, and he is opposed to the recognition of cultural and linguistic rights for Turkey’s Kurdish minority.
As prime minister in the 1970's Ecevit was responsible for an anti-European policy. While in power through most of 1974, Ecevit was in charge of invading northern Cyprus, reintroducing opium production in the country and trying to limit the excesses of the police. This changed when he made his comeback in the late 1990's.
His governance in the 3rd administration turned out to be a disaster, bringing Turkey into one of its deepest and most serious economic crisis ever. The popular reaction to this was devastating in the November 2002 general elections, when none of the parties of Ecevit's government coalition receives enough votes to be represented in the parliament.
Ecevit could never become president, as he doesn't hold a university degree, which is a prerequisite according to the Turkish constitution.


1925: Born in Istanbul into an intellectual family.
1940's: Receives his education from universities in Istanbul, Britain and the USA, but without ever finishing a degree.
1957: Is elected to parliament, representing the Republican People's Party.
1961: Reelected to parliament. Is appointed Minister of Labour in the government of Ismet Inönü.
1965: Steps down as minister.
1966: Becomes secretary-general of the Republican People's Party.
1971 March: Steps down from his position as secretary-general of the party, in protest to his party's support for the intervention of the military in Turkish politics.
1972: Becomes new chairman of the party.
1974 January: Becomes prime minister of a coalition government.
July: Following the overthrow of the leadership of Cyprus, Ecevit sends his Turkish troops to the northern part the island to protect the Turkish population.
November: Strains in the coalition leads to its resignation.
1978 January: Ecevit forms his second government, with a policy of taking Turkey out of its economic crisis. He follows a programme partly set up by the IMF, but is unable to deliver his promises.
1979 October: Ecevit resigns from power, faced with the failure of his politics.
1981: A military coup is staged, Ecevit's party is banned, and he is imprisoned.
1987: Ecevit becomes chairman of the new Democratic Left Party.
1999 January: Ecevit makes his comeback, as he is asked to form a caretaker government. It is made up of a coalition of 3 parties: Ecevit's Democratic Left Party, the Motherland Party of the last prime minister Mesut Yilmaz and the True Path Party of former prime minister, Tansu Ciller.
May 28: General elections allow Ecevit to continue as prime minister, heading the same coalition.
2002 April: Ecevit falls ill with intestinal problems, a vein infection, a cracked rib and a spinal injury. This affects the country's already weak economy heavily.
November 3: Ecevit gets his most serious blow yet, when his party only receives 1,2% of the votes in the early general elections, and gets no representation in the parliament.

By Tore Kjeilen