The atmosphere of freedom that had characterized the 1965-1971 period ended with a communiqu� on 12 March 1971. The joint memorandum of the Chief of General Staff and four Force Commanders, called for the formation of a nonpartisan government of national consensus in which all the political parties would participate so that the necessary reforms with a Kemalist perception could be implemented and so that terrorism and anarchy could be prevented and the future of the regime could be secured. Otherwise, the army warned that it would undertake the administration directly.

Under these circumstances, Prime Minister Demirel handed in his resignation to President Cevdet Sunay the same day. The first government of the 12 March period was established by Nihat Erim who had resigned from the CHP. Significant number of his cabinet ministers were technicians who were called the "brain team". The first move of Erim's government, which was supposed to make reforms, was to declare martial law and take tough measures.

Some important articles of the Constitution were changed. The first Erim government, however, could not cope with the dissonance within the cabinet and was replaced by the second Erim government. Because of the various pressures he had been facing, Prime Minister Erim resigned once again and he was replaced by Ferit Melen, the Minister of National Defense in Erim's former cabinet.

The Ferit Melen government in turn was replaced by the Naim Talu government which started a kind of transition process to democracy. In the presidential elections of 1973, Fahri Koruturk, the joint candidate of the AP and CHP became President whereas Faruk Gurler, the candidate of the 12 March period, lost. Meanwhile, interesting developments had been occurring within the CHP since 1969.

The Secretary General Bulent Ecevit, and his colleagues resigned from membership in the Central Executive Board, ostensibly because they disagreed with Ismet Inonu, the Chairman, concerning the party policy to be followed against the 12 March regime. This team carried out a fundamental struggle within the party during the 12 March period.

In the general congress of the party, which was held in 1972, Ecevit and his colleagues attained the absolute majority of the seats on the Central Executive Board, whereupon, Inonu resigned from the Chairmanship, from the Parliament and from the party membership. In the special party congress which was held immediately, Ecevit was elected as the party chairman. A new period started for the CHP.