Kemalism in Turkish Politics

The Republican People's Party, Secularism and Nationalism

By Sinan Ciddi

© 2009 – Routledge

192 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415612814
pub: 2010-11-29
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415475044
pub: 2008-12-23
US Dollars$150.00

About the Book

This book is concerned with Turkey’s political evolution, the role of Kemalism, and why a social democratic alternative has never fully developed. Concentrating on the electoral weaknesses of the Turkish centre-left, represented by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Sinan Ciddi examines the roles of nationalism and the political establishment and the role of Kemalist ideology.

Established by Kemal Ataturk, the CHP is seen to be the founding party of modern Turkey. Kemalism sought to create a secular and democratic society based on the principles of republicanism, populism, secularism, nationalism and revolutionism. Although this leftist ideology became an integral part of Turkish politics by the early 1960s, it has remained a comparatively weak representative movement. Its strong ideological stance advocates an authoritarian and exclusionary position, particularly in relation to matters such as multiculturalism and democratisation, fuelling many debates concerning the role of religion and nationalism within Turkey and perpetuating elements of xenophobia and intolerance.

This book will be of interest to students of politics, history and current affairs, and of Turkish politics in particular.


'A very useful addition to the literature on Turkish politics. It is recommended to both the uninitiated and the long-time student of Turkish politics.' - Metin Heper, Bilkent University, Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.1, 2010

'Ciddi’s book provides an informative and moving account of social democratic politics and the RPP in recent history. It also tries to explain the failure of the social democratic political parties both in electoral politics and when they have led coalition governments. At a time when there is a growing interest in Turkish politics and the JDP government, such a contribution helps researchers to extend the scope of their studies to include oppositional politics in general and social democratic parties in particular.' - Middle East Policy, Vol. XVI, No.2, Summer 2009

Table of Contents

Introduction Social Democracy, Kemalism and the Republican People’s Party Part 1 1. Kemalism and the Left 2. Mainstream Left Politics: "Democratic Left" Ideology and the CHP 3. Appraising Centre-Left Politics 1961-1980 4. The 12 September Coup d’état and its Aftermath: The Displacement of Centre Left Politics? Part 2 5. Accounting for the Weakness of the Centre-left in the 1990s: Ideological Considerations 6. A Crisis of Kemalist Modernity? 7. Three Cases: The Alevis, Trade Unions and the Urban Vote 8. Revisionism: An Anathema for the Turkish Centre-Left and The Principle of ‘Ideological Adaptability’ Conclusion: The CHP: The Continued Projection of Centrist Politics?

About the Author

Sinan Ciddi is currently an instructor at Sabanci University. He will be working at the University of Florida, Gainesville from Fall 2008 onwards where Turkish Studies is being established within the Center for European Studies.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Politics

This series is concerned with recent political developments in the region. It will have a range of different approaches and include both single authored monographs and edited volumes covering issues such as international relations, foreign intervention, security, political Islam, democracy, ideology and public policy.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Nationalism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies