The Construction of Nationalist Politics in Turkey: The MHP, 1965-1980


This article presents an in-depth investigation into the organization of the Turkish nationalist movement from 1965 to 1980. The evolution of the nationalist movement proceeded along two complementary but divergent axes: on the one hand, the official party organization, and, on the other, the wider fringes of the nationalist movement. The article aims to demonstrate the tension among the party cadres, where two underlying, but overlapping, divergences were exposed: one was the ideological divide linked to the generational difference between the older, more secular, military-trained leaders, and the younger and more religious university students trained in the party clubhouses, which were called ülkü ocaklari (lit. Hearths of Ideal); the other was the strategic difference between those who prioritized electoral success, such as the party board and its local representatives, and those from the ülkü ocaklari, who thought that the only way to win the “war” against the socialists was to wipe them out by force. In the face of these tensions, the unifying forces that kept the nationalist activists together were the cult of the leader and the state of war with the socialists.


MHP Nationalism Youth Political Movements Turkey Islam.