140. Intelligence Assessment Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

PA 79–10225

Turkey: Ecevit Government in Crisis [handling restriction not declassified]


The chances of Bulent Ecevit’s left-of-center government surviving the country’s worsening internal security and economic crises have further diminished. Ecevit’s efforts to balance political imperatives against the need for quick, decisive action have produced measures that are frequently too little or too late.2 [handling restriction not declassified]

Political violence—back to pre-martial law levels—has become significantly more destabilizing, with the terrorists resorting to the killing of prominent Turks and Americans. Kurdish separatist organizations have been encouraged by events in neighboring Iran to step up their demands for autonomy. The economy is in such bad shape that even the promised international assistance—which is contingent on Turkey’s still problematical compliance with International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations—would be no more than palliative if not accompanied by structural changes. [handling restriction not declassified]

Important sectors of the government’s constituency have gradually been alienated—Ecevit is now one vote shy of a parliamentary majority. After first angering the conservatives in his government and [Page 428] then the leftists, Ecevit is now losing the support of other key groups. Businessmen, who take credit for Ecevit’s accession to power, have called on him to step down. The ever watchful military has grown impatient with the civilian leaders’ politicking and has begun to assert itself more in the making of internal security policy. An influential general has advocated tougher laws, and the leader of the 1971 “coup by memorandum,” who is now a senator and presidential hopeful, has gone so far as to call for a more authoritarian constitution. Even labor has soured on Ecevit because of his economic policies and his acquiescence in the military’s May Day clampdown on labor and leftists. [handling restriction not declassified]

Ecevit still hopes to emerge from his Republican People’s Party (RPP) convention that opened 24 May with his waning strength relatively intact.3 He might then limp along until the October senatorial election, hoping that foreign aid will rescue the failing economy and give him another boost. Even if he survives until then, however, a defeat at the polls seems likely to follow. Moreover, whatever Ecevit’s individual fate, growing numbers of Turks are fed up with weak governments and politics-as-usual. Support for an “above-parties” government is on the increase and some Turks even talk about a more basic “reform” of the political system itself, which might lead to military involvement. A weak government in Ankara will continue to make for strains in Turkey’s relations with its allies, and in the longer term so too would an authoritarian one. If Turkey does move toward authoritarianism, it will almost certainly be of the right—[less than 1 line not declassified]—and not of the left. [handling restriction not declassified]

[Omitted here is the body of the intelligence assessment.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, Job 80T00942A, Box 10, Turkey: Ecevit Government in Crisis, Secret/Copies 263, 24. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. A note on the title page reads: “This report was prepared by the Western Europe Division of the Office of Political Analysis. It has been coordinated with the Office of Economic Research, the Office of Strategic Research, the Directorate of Operations and the National Intelligence Offices for Western Europe.”
  2. In a May 1 memorandum to Brzezinski, Henze also predicted that Ecevit’s acute political weaknesses had virtually ensured that the United States would not be able to secure a “fully favorable response from Ecevit on U–2 flights in the near future.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special, Box 3, 5/79)
  3. Ecevit remained in power following a vote at the RPP convention on May 28, securing his position as party chairman until 1981.