Turkey's new political arena fills with contenders since lifting of ban
After 21/2 years of military deep freeze, Turkish politics suddenly reawakened this spring. The military government recently lifted the 31-month ban on political parties it imposed after its takeover in 1980. The political arena was immediately invaded by dozens of aspirants - most of whom are newcomers to politics - trying to form new parties.
The reason so many of the personalities sprouting up on the political scene are new is that leaders and parties active before the military coup are barred from entering politics for 5 to 10 years.
But the military rulers' expectation of a strong, mass-supported party with new, ''clean'' leaders seems far from being fulfilled.
On both the left and the right, new groups are vying for the same votes in the Nov. 6 general elections. They are posing as the heirs of the two major outlawed parties - the Justice Party and the Social Democratic Republican People's Party - whose leading members are still active behind the scenes in spite of the restrictions.
Before the green light was given for the resumption of political activity, the military leaders did not hide their desire to see the emergence of a strong center-right party, possibly under the leadership of Prime Minister Bulent Ulusu.
But Mr. Ulusu failed in his efforts to obtain the support of former politicians and handed over the responsibility of prime minister to a former general and ambassador, Turgut Sunalp, who has formed the new Nationalist Democratic Party. General Sunalp has the full support of Turkey's president, Gen. Kenan Evren, and rightist political forces, but is challenged by several other groups also trying for the support of the moderate right.
Outlawed politician Bulent Ecevit, former prime minister and once leader of the Social Democrats, is refraining from favoring any group. Several personalities, most of whom are new names in politics, are striving to represent the Social Democratic front. This has already given rise to a half-dozen groups, each claiming to be the true representative of the moderate left.
One contender in the left is Necdet Calp, who has grouped several former members of the outlawed Republican People's Party. Another strong contender is Erdal Inonu, son of the former prime minister and president, Ismet Inonu.
The new parties will need a minimum of 10 percent of the total votes to be represented in parliament, thus avoiding the presence of small groups.