Prime Minister Tansu Ciller has ruled out the prospect of an early general election by submitting a bill to parliament calling for a series of by- elections on December 4. Her True Path Party (DYP) will also maintain the coalition with its minority partner, the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP – MEED 23:9:94).

Ciller said that an election atmosphere would undermine the government’s recovery programme, aggravate political divisions and upset the country’s proposed entry into a customs union with the EU in 1995. She also rejected reports of a possible coalition between the DYP and the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP). Support for the by-elections has come from ANAP, but its chairman, Mesut Yilmaz, says the government will be forced into calling a general election next year anyway.

The prime minister is taking a gamble by calling the elections, political analysts say. The Islamist Welfare Party could build on its success in the local elections in March and win most, if not all, of the vacant seats caused by the disqualification of 13 MPs from the Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP).