Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Menderes, Adnan (1899–1961)

Turkish politician and prime minister. Adnan Menderes was born in 1899 into a wealthy family of landowners in Aydin, Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire). He attended Izmir American College and later the Faculty of Law at Ankara University, graduating in 1935. During Turkey's Independence War (1919–1922), he participated in the local resistance against the Occupation Forces and later received an honorary medal. In 1930 he founded the local chapter of the Free Party that advocated liberal economic principles. When the party closed down in the same year, he joined Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's Republican People's Party (RPP) and was elected to the parliament on its ticket in 1931.

Although Menderes served in various parliamentary committees, he gained a nationwide reputation only in 1945 when he vehemently criticized the government's proposal to redistribute big landowners' property to the peasants. His ideas sparked interest among the elites who were unhappy with the RPP's single-handed rule. When his opposition found more popular currency, he was expelled from the party along with two other major political figures. In 1946 he cofounded the Democrat Party (DP) that defeated the RPP in the 1950 national election and brought him to the premiership.

Menderes continued to follow the RPP's pro-Western policies. He supported Turkey's participation in the Korean War and its accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the other hand, he tried to establish closer relations with Muslim countries and relaxed the strict controls over the practice of religion. Unlike the RPP governments, his administration advocated economic liberalism and launched various modernization projects especially in agriculture. The projects were mostly financed with international loans that gradually overwhelmed the economy. Despite his decreasing popularity, Menderes remained in power until 27 May 1960, when his government was overthrown and his party was closed down by a military coup d'état.

The DP came to power with the support of peasants, petty merchants, and the middle class, but it soon alienated the secular groups as well as the military with its pro-Islamic and authoritarian policies. Menderes intensified the censorship over the press after the 1954 elections and jailed many journalists who criticized his administration. When the military intervened in 1960, he was arrested and tried for embezzling state funds and corruption, among other charges. At the end of an eleven-month trial, he and two other ministers were executed on the island of Imrali on 17 September 1961 and buried there. In 1990, their bodies were brought to a mausoleum in Istanbul with a state funeral led by Turkish President Turgut Özal.

Burcak Keskin-Kozat


Further Reading
Sayarý, Sabri. "Adnan Menderes: Between Democratic and Authoritarian Populism." Pp. 65–86 in Political Leaders in Turkey, edited by M. Heper and S. Sayarý. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer