The years between 1968 and 1971 in Turkey were unprecedented in terms of rising social protests instigated by students, workers, peasants, teachers and white-collar workers. However, these social movements have received very limited scholarly attention, and the existing literature is marred by many flaws. The scarce literature has mainly provided an economic determinist framework for understanding the massive mobilizations of the period, by stressing the worsening economic conditions of the masses. However, these explanations cannot be verified by data. This article tries to provide an alternative, mainly political explanation for the protest cycle of 1968-71, relying on the “political process” model of social movement studies. It suggests that the change in the power balance of organized groups in politics, which was spearheaded by a prolonged elite conflict between the Kemalist bureaucracy and the political elite of the center-right, provided significant opportunities to under-represented groups to organize and raise their voices.