222. Briefing Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hyland) to Secretary of State Kissinger1
PROSPECTS FOR THE DEMIREL GOVERNMENT
DEMIREL’s winning of a narrow vote of confidence (without an absolute majority) has not ended his problems. He himself had previously judged that he needed an edge of about 50 deputies for effective government, and he got only four. It will be hard for DEMIREL to concert his narrow majority of disparate elements to pass contentious legislation, but it will also be even harder for the opposition soon to get the 226 votes needed for a vote of no-confidence.
DEMIREL’s coalition partners are committed to (and may pass) an election law change that would benefit them at the expense of the Republican Peoples Party. In general, however, DEMIREL will probably be inclined to bypass Parliament and rule through executive decrees of the Cabinet as far as possible. Even this route depends on keeping his coalition in line and is not suited to longer-range actions. It is in fact that method that DEMIREL preferred when he headed the government before 1971.
The present coalition has little room for flexibility on the Cyprus issue. Deputy Prime Ministers Erbakan and Turkes have both advocated extreme policies toward the Greek Cypriots. Their presence in the government will not be reassuring to Athens or Nicosia but probably will not prevent the resumption of humanitarian talks between Clerides and Denktash later this month. Efforts at an overall solution, however, will be even more difficult.[Page 723]
DEMIREL’s government will try to limit damage in relations with the US. He and Foreign Minister Caglayangil are personally well- disposed toward Washington and are convinced of Turkey’s need to remain in the Western alliance. They may feel forced to retaliate against the US, however, by Turkes and perhaps others in the Cabinet who are less committed to cooperation. The government also is likely to be pressed more intensely by the opposition parties whose hopes of regaining power had moderated their criticism of the US over the aid cut. In a free-wheeling political debate in Turkey, the US can only come out the loser.
DEMIREL’s most troublesome problem will be dealing with the aroused and frustrated opposition. Ecevit has played a powerful role in keeping the left wing in Turkey reasonably quiet to avoid disrupting his chances to return to office. These elements consider Turkes a fascist and, either in reaction to acts of his followers or on their own initiative, are likely to contribute to increasing student and labor unrest. DEMIREL will thus find it considerably more difficult to govern than Ecevit did last year.
Threats to law and order would greatly disturb important elements in the military. The generals ousted DEMIREL in 1971 on these grounds. They will be watching closely to see how well his government does this time. Should he be faced with continuing disturbances, sentiment within the military to intervene would grow, although given their strong non-political inclination, it would take very powerful impetus to set the leadership of the armed forces in motion.
Despite these many problems, DEMIREL does not consider his government a short-term expedient to prepare for elections. He would like to remain in office long enough to show that he can govern, thus removing the taint of his removal in 1971. His coalition partners also want the prestige of participating in the Cabinet to improve their standing in the next elections. Few of the members of the smaller parties want early elections—in which their chances of being returned to Parliament are questionable.
Thus, for all its difficulties, this coalition could stay in office for some time. If it did encounter continuing threats to law and order, however, DEMIREL might choose to proceed to elections in hopes of being able to form a more manageable and acceptable government.
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 239, Geopolitical File, Turkey. Confidential. Drafted by George Harris (INR/RNA).↩