TURKEY: Ciller on brink of Islamist-led coalition

28 June 1996

Formation of a conservative coalition led by the Islamist Welfare Party (Refah) was contingent on a parliamentary debate on 19 June for another inquiry into former premier Tansu Ciller. A vote against the inquiry might open the way for an expected announcement by her the next day of agreement on a Refah coalition with her True Path Party (DYP).

Refah was widely expected to carry the vote against the motion brought by the Democratic Left Party (DSP) for an inquiry alleging Ciller misspent funds withdrawn from a Prime Ministry security fund when caretaker premier in March and February.

During and after coalition talks on 14 June, Ciller had agreed that veteran politician Necmettin Erbakan should be premier, in return for a deputy premiership coupled with the Foreign Ministry portfolio, a large cabinet presence for the DYP, and control of the treasury, according to Turkish press reports.

Previously, the Islamists had successfully orchestrated other parliamentary corruption probes and scandals against Ciller. These were mainly responsible for the acrimonious collapse in early June of the DYP's minority coalition with the Motherland Party (ANAP) led by caretaker Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

The Islamists were jilted from power by the March formation of the ANAP-DYP coalition, despite being returned as the largest party in a hung parliament by end-December general elections.

Unless she joined with the Islamists, the former premier's political career could be at stake, said observers. The corruption investigations could lead to eventual indictments in the supreme court, while she could not be sure of retaining the party leadership at a forthcoming DYP annual summer convention, they said.

President Demirel on 16 June stressed again that he would be constitutionally empowered to form a caretaker government until general elections, should a viable government formula not emerge before 22 July.

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