Government of Mind
“İsms are straitjacket put to our minds”
Cemil Meriç, written in his book “Bu Ülke” in the page 90
When people heard the news of Mehmet Avni Doğan becoming the Prime Minister of Turkey, they all asked one question. Who? After all, nobody heard of this man. But, who was he?
Yön Magazine's Famous "Who Has the Power?" Cover
Mehmet Avni Doğan was a bureaucrat from the beginning. Going to schools that bureaucrats went to, and serving both during Ottoman and Republic Era, he would also serve in the governorships of Kastamonu, Samsun and Ankara. This was followed by entering political life as a MP. And, when he was sixty nine years old, he would become Minister without portfolio, a position with no importance and no responsibility. It was considered by no one that this man could rise any further. Yet, when the deal was announced, he was announced as the new Prime Minister of Turkey, due to his sympathies towards Talat Aydemir’s coup attempt. This fast and unexpected rise in power would be questioned by many people and intellectuals, with the left-leaning Yön magazine putting out their famous cover. In that cover, Mehmet Avni Doğan was in front, with the War Academy behind him, with the question of “Who Has the Power?” being beneath the picture.
And this rise was unexpected for Mehmet Avni Doğan as well. He had no idea what kind of government he should form or even was undecided on whether to accept the position of the Prime Ministership or not. But, after a few desperate visits by both pro-coup and anti-coup people, he, still with reluctance, accepted the position. After this decision, he would resign from CHP and would begin trying to hold the country together.
And, the first problem for his government would begin even before the government was established. How to form a workable majority? Despite what the right thinks of CHP, CHP was not in favor of the government forced onto them by Talat Aydemir. To them, it was a government that everyone involved was going to die politically when the 1965 Elections happened. Doors of the Justice Party were completely closed, as both them and the people who put Mehmet Avni Doğan didn’t want them to be involved in the government. So, the only viable way for him to gain a workable majority was to gain the support of the smaller two parties of the Assembly, and then convince CHP to join them as well.
So, negotiations between the government and the smaller parties begin. First party government to ask for help was the YTP, a liberal-conservative party led by Ekrem Alican, maker of the deal between the pro-coup and anti-coup forces. And, after some negotiations, Ekrem Alican and his party members accepted to be in the coalition, on the condition that Ekrem Alican was going to be the Deputy Prime Minister. After this however, came the real negotiations. Negotiations with Osman Bölükbaşı, a man known for his strong opposition against the coalition formed in 1961. And, as everyone expected, Osman Bölükbaşı was strongly against the coalition. And, for even worse news for the Doğan Government, was that nearly all of the CKMP was behind their leader on his coalition policy. So, they had only one choice remaining. Negotiations with CHP.
As the Prime Minister Mehmet Avni Doğan and members of his government, mainly YTP members with few independents, began their negotiations with the CHP leadership, Talat Aydemir and his friends were talking about what to do next. Their coup attempt was aborted due to the realization that they were going to be defeated, and while they managed to get a few concessions out of the government, their biggest demands, revision of some articles of the constitution, were not accepted. While there were talks of a coup among the abolished Armed Forces Union, most members knew that they were under watch by everyone. There was no possibility of a successful coup. So, they decided on another route. They were going to ensure that their terms were met. The Doğan Government was going to survive and those MPs they didn’t want were going to go. In order to accomplish this, they penned the Manifesto from the Devotees.
Manifesto was filled with threats of a coup if “stability of the country was not maintained through forming a stable government of mind” and if “criminals hiding behind the political curtains of our life were not brought under justice.” While there was no signature in the manifesto, it was obvious that this was written by the members of the former Armed Forces Union. And the manifesto, despite the criticisms by the politicians towards it, did its job. Members of CHP, who were stalling the negotiations with the government, began to reconsider their positions on the issue, while the first ten MPs whose positions were put to vote all lost their positions.
Former President and Former Prime Minister of Turkey, İsmet İnönü
Yet, the leader of CHP, İsmet İnönü was still refusing to bow down to Talat Aydemir once again. To him, this became an issue of honor. And, also, he was not going to join the government of Mehmet Avni Doğan, who became Prime Minister not through an election, but by a practical ultimatum. While he was ready to fight, most of his deputies knew very well that Colonels could push for another coup, and this time, could outright get the power. So, talks to convince İsmet İnönü began. First, it was done by backbenchers with little influence who did not want to lose their seats. Then, as days passed with no agreement and rumors of coup once again rose, it was the turn of the semi-important people of the party. And, finally, on the eleventh day of the negotiations, two unlikely politicians formed an alliance to convince İsmet İnönü.
Turhan Feyzioğlu, considered as the successor of İsmet İnönü who came from the right-wing of the party and Bülent Ecevit, a popular politician who came from the left wing of the party, would form a temporary alliance to convince İsmet İnönü to join to the Doğan Government. They, themselves, did not like bending their knees to the Colonels, yet they also did not want their country to become a battleground between two sides. And, that was their main point to İsmet İnönü. Did he really want to sacrifice his country’s people for his honor? Did he really want Atatürk’s legacy to go away because of a civil war?
This worked. İsmet İnönü, very reluctantly, agreed to become part of the Doğan Government and that was it. The Doğan Government managed to have a majority of seventeen seats, excluding the seats that were empty, which meant that his government may survive until the 1965 Elections.