Erdal İnönü : biography
Erdal İnönü (6 June 1926 – 31 October 2007) was a Turkish theoretical physicist and politician. He was the son of Turkey’s second president İsmet İnönü. Leader of the Social Democratic Populist Party between 1983 and 1993, he served as Deputy Prime Minister in two governments between 1991 and 1993 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs for approximately six months in 1995.
Erdal İnönü died in Houston, Texas, USA on 31 October 2007, where he was being treated for leukaemia. His body was flown to Turkey and was buried at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in İstanbul on 4 November 2007 following a state funeral held before the building of Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara the previous day and then an Islamic funeral in the Teşvikiye Mosque in İstanbul.
He was the 2004 recipient of the Wigner medal, administered by the Group Theory and Fundamental Physics Foundation, for his contributions to group contractions. İnönü was also known for his work on the history of science in the Republic of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. He lectured at Sabanci University and the Feza Gürsey Institute from 2004 to 2007.
In 1993 summer he announced that he won’t run for the leadership of the party in the coming congresss. During the 4th general congress of the party on 11–12 September 1993, he resigned from the leadership of the party and consequently he also resigned from his post in the government. Murat Karayalçın replaced him in both posts. In February 1995 SHP and recently refounded Republican People’s party (CHP) merged. Upon Erdal İnönü’s suggestion the new party was named CHP. In CHP Erdal İnönü was given the title of honorary chairman. In 1995 he served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for about six months.
Although the military government banned İnönü’s party in 1983 elections, SODEP managed to survive and became the second party in 1984 local elections. In November 1985 SODEP and another party named People’s Party (Halkçı Parti) formed a union, i.e., SHP. According to consolidation agreement İnönü briefly lost his post. But he became the leader of SHP in May 1986. SHP was one of the parties which weighed the heaviest in Turkey’s political scene during the late 1980s and early 1990s. İnönü challenged the liberal conservative party of Turgut Özal, ANAP, both in 1987 and 1991 elections. One of the main reasons why SHP could not win an election was the division of the moderate left votes between SHP and DSP, the party of the former CHP leader Bülent Ecevit. Erdal İnönü was also a member of the Socialist International. He joined discussions as the Deputy Chairman of the organization.
Erdal İnönü was deputy Prime Minister in the two coalition governments formed between center-right DYP and SHP, which were led by Demirel at first (from 1991 to 1993) and when Demirel became President, by Tansu Çiller, in a unity largely caused by their resentment at the time against the outgoing Motherland Party.
He graduated from the Physics Department of the Faculty of Sciences of Ankara University in 1947 and received his PhD from California Institute of Technology in 1951; with Eugene Wigner, he pioneered the study of group contractions. Upon his return to Turkey, İnönü worked at first as assistant professor in Ankara University. Between 1964-1974, he was professor of physics and the first Chairman of the Department of Theoretical Physics at the Middle East Technical University (1960–1966). He initiated research on neutron transport during that period. Between 1969-1971, he was the Dean of the university’s Faculty of Art and Sciences. He served as president of METU between 1970-1971. In 1974, İnönü moved to Bosphorus University in Istanbul and lectured there until his venture into politics when he founded the Social Democracy Party (SODEP) in 1983.