Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Demirel, Süleyman (1924–)

Turkish politician, prime minister, and ninth president of Turkey (1993–2000). Born on 6 October 1924 into a peasant family in İslamköy, Isparta, in southwest Anatolia, Süleyman Demirel received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Istanbul Technical University in 1949 and pursued postgraduate studies in the United States during 1950–1951. Upon his return to Turkey, he served as the head of the department of dams and director of the department of irrigation. In 1962, he joined the center-rightist Justice Party and became its chairman in 1964.

Demirel's life vividly exemplified the chaotic, unstable nature of Turkish politics during the Cold War. From 1965 to 1980, he formed six coalition governments, all of which had to be disbanded because of parliamentary politics or military coups. His three administrations during the 1970s were plagued with high inflation, trade deficits, and either leftist or rightist extremism. In 1971, Turkish military leaders demanded his resignation, claiming that he was unable to suppress escalating civil strife. In 1980, the military intervened once again for similar reasons and placed Demirel under house arrest in Zincirbozan. He was forbidden from participating in politics for the next ten years.

When the political ban was lifted after a popular referendum in 1987, Demirel became chairman of the True Path Party and was elected to parliament. In 1991 the party won a majority of seats in parliament, elevating Demirel to the premiership for the seventh time. Upon the sudden death of President Turgut Özal, Demirel was elected president in 1993. He served a full seven-year term and left office in 2000.

As prime minister, Demirel implemented developmentalist agricultural and economic policies and pursued a pro-Western foreign policy, advocating the strengthening of Turkey's ties to the Western alliance. As president, he fostered the smooth functioning of the government through an effective coordination of public institutions. Demirel now resides in Ankara.

Burcak Keskin-Kozat


Further Reading
Heper, Metin, and Menderes Çinar. "Parliamentary Government with a Strong President: The Post-1989 Turkish Experience." Political Science Quarterly 111(3) (1996): 483–503.; Lovatt, Debbie, ed. Turkey since 1970: Politics, Economics and Society. New York: Palgrave, 2000.
 

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