Welfare Party

Welfare Party
Refah Partisi
Leader Necmettin Erbakan
Founder Ahmet Tekdal
Founded 19 July 1983
Dissolved 16 January 1998
Preceded by National Salvation Party
Succeeded by Virtue Party
Headquarters Ankara, Turkey
Ideology Millî Görüş
Political position Far-right
Religion Sunni Islam
Slogan Justice is our goal

The Welfare Party (Turkish: Refah Partisi, RP) was an Islamist political party in Turkey. It was founded by Ali Türkmen, Ahmet Tekdal, and Necmettin Erbakan in Ankara in 1983 as heir to two earlier parties, National Order Party (MNP) and National Salvation Party (MSP), which were banned from politics. The RP participated in mayoral elections at that time and won in three cities Konya, Şanlıurfa, and Van. Their vote percentage was approximately 5%.

The Welfare Party participated in the 1991 elections in a triple alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Reformist Democracy Party (IDP). They gained 16.9% of the vote. They won 62 deputies to parliament, but 19 deputies of MHP (with founding Democratic Movement Party in 25 December 1991 and joining the MÇP in 29 December 1991) and 3 of IDP left the Welfare Party after the election. Their popular vote increased over the years until they became the largest party under Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan in 1996. The coalition government of Erbakan was forced out of power by the Turkish military in 1997, due to being suspected of having an Islamist agenda.[1]

In 1998, the Welfare Party was banned from politics by the Constitutional Court of Turkey for violating the separation of religion and state as mandated by the constitution.[2] The ban was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on 13 February 2003. The ECtHR's decision was criticized by Human Rights Watch for lack of consistency, as the ECtHR had refused disbanding of other parties on several occasions, but the ECtHR defended its decision.[3][4]

The incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was a former member of the party. After being banned from politics for a period, he left this Islamist group and founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Abdullah Gül, the former President of Turkey, was the deputy leader of the Welfare Party until its dissolution.

Lost Trillion Case

After the closure of the party, the Treasury demanded the return of grants worth around one trillion lira, i.e. one million in today's currency (around 477,000). Party officials stated that the funds were spent on party activities. However, an investigation revealed that the official documents were forged.[5][6][7]

In the beginning of 1999, Necmettin Erbakan and 78 party officials stood trial in Ankara for embezzlement charges. The case became known as the "Lost Trillion Case" or the "Missing Trillion Case" (Turkish: Kayıp Trilyon Davası).[5][6][7] In March 2002, the court sentenced Erbakan to two years and four months in prison. 68 party officials received sentences of up to one year and two months in prison. The sentences were approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals.[8][9] The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban as well.[10]

Election Results

Grand National Assembly

Election date Party leader Votes % of Votes Seats Government
1987 Necmettin Erbakan 1,717,425 7.20%
0 / 450
1991 Necmettin Erbakan 4,121,355 16.87%
62 / 450
DYP minority
1995 Necmettin Erbakan 6,012,450 21.38%
158 / 550
DSP minority


  1. Karadjis, Michael (19 October 1997). "Behind the Turkish Military's "Soft Coup"". Green Left Weekly. 294. Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  2. "Turkey's Welfare Party is banned". BBC News. 16 January 1998.
  3. Turkey: Party Case Shows Need for Reform – Ruling Party Narrowly Escapes Court Ban, Human Rights Watch, 31 July 2008
  4. Moe, Christian (September 2003). "Refah Partisi (The Welfare Party) and Others v. Turkey". International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law. International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. 6 (1). ISSN 1556-5157. Archived from the original on 25 September 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  5. 1 2 "Leaders of now-defunct Welfare Party stand trial for fraud". Hürriyet Daily News. 1999-02-09. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  6. 1 2 "Abdullah Gül, Erbakan'ı affetti". Radikal (in Turkish). 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  7. 1 2 "Former President Gül testifies in 'lost trillion case'". Hürriyet Daily News. 2014-11-19. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  8. Korkut, Tolga (2009-05-20). "Ankara Court Rules that President Gül May Be Tried". Bianet Bağımsız İletişim Ağı. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  9. "Turkish supreme court ratifies imprisonment term for former PM". Kuwait News Agency. 2003-12-02. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  10. Childs, Martin (2011-03-04). "Necmettin Erbakan: Politician who served as Turkey's first Islamist prime minister". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
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