The opposition Welfare Party (Refah) saw its efforts to cripple the coalition government advance on 14 May when the consititutional court declared invalid the March vote of confidence in the present government. ‘Work on forming a new government should begin without wasting any time,’ Refah deputy chairman Musa Demirci told a press conference on 15 May.

Legal experts say that the coalition of Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz’s Motherland Party (ANAP) and former premier Tansu Ciller’s True Path Party (DYP) may have to seek a fresh vote of confidence as a result of the verdict.

The ruling comes on top of further embarrassment for Ciller, who has now been accused of withdrawing TL 500 million million ($6.5 million) from a secret security fund before she handed over to Yilmaz. The mass circulation daily Hurriyet alleges that the funds were used to help cover the expenses of the DYP election campaign in December.

Ciller now looks increasingly isolated, observers say. Parliament voted overwhelmingly for a Refah proposal on 9 May to launch a second investigation into Ciller’s activities – this time her role in the 1994 privatisation of car maker Tofas. Ciller’s supporters have countered the Refah campaign with calls for a public enquiry into the assets of party chairman Necmettin Erbakan.