Deniz Baykal

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Deniz Baykal : biography

20 July 1938 –

Deniz Baykal (born 20 July 1938 in Antalya, Turkey) is a Turkish politician. He was a long-time leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).


Baykal was born to Hüseyin Hilmi and Feride in Antalya. He was educated at the University of Ankara Faculty of Law. He later studied at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University as a Rockefeller scholar. Following this, he has completed his Ph.D. by 1963 at the University of Ankara Faculty of Political Science. He became an Associate Professor at the same faculty, where he lectured until 1973.

He became a professional politician with the support and encouragement of Bülent Ecevit. He was elected a MP from the Republican People’s Party in 1973. He served as the Minister of Finance, Energy and Foreign Affairs in various times throughout his career, as well as one term as a Deputy Prime Minister.

Following the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, along with the other prominent figures of all political parties, he also was arrested, and had been banned from all political activities for five years by the military regime. In 1987 he came back to political scene again, and joined the Social Democratic People’s Party. He was elected as a MP from Antalya in 1987 General Elections.

He was elected to the second chair of the Social Democratic People’s Party as the General Secretary in 1988.

In 1992, with the abandonment of laws prohibiting the re-foundation of former political parties, he led a significant movement and re-established the historical Republican People’s Party (CHP), which had been closed down by 1980 military regime. He was elected as the leader of the party, a post he held until May 2010. Today, his social democratic and secular Republican People’s Party is still the second biggest of the country and is the major opposition party in the parliament.

Baykal always hold his ground as a staunch supporter of a strong response to terrorism.

He resigned from the leadership of CHP on May 10, 2010. Criticism of his private life after an alleged video-tape showing him in the same bedroom with his former secretary, and a member of parliament Nesrin Baytok, was leaked to the media played a major role in his resignation.

The ‘Baykal Era’ of the Republican People’s Party not only finalized with this resignation, but his successor, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who came in power in December 2010, swiftly removed all prominent figures of the party who were close to Baykal, and a new administration, mostly consisting of brand-new names some were not even former members of the party, were placed in leading positions. This ‘New’ and controversial post-Baykal period CHP had been tested in the 2011 General Elections, which turned out to be a failure for Kılıçdaroğlu. However, Deniz Baykal was easily re-elected as a MP from his hometown, Antalya, which strengthened his decreasing role in CHP once again.