Turks were scheduled to go to the polls on 24 December in general elections expected to confirm the Islamists as the single biggest political group but to leave secular forces in charge of a coalition government.

The Islamist conservative Welfare Party (RP) went into the elections expecting to take the biggest share of the vote with at least 25 per cent support. Its leader, Necmettin Erbakan, triumphantly claimed that the RP would form the country’s next government.

However, analysts consider it more likely the RP will become the main opposition party against another coalition of broadly secular groupings. One might be Prime Minister Tansu Ciller’s conservative True Path Party (DYP) together with its present junior coalition partner, the social democrat Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP). A DYP coalition with the main opposition conservative Motherland Party (ANAP) is also a possibility.

Another coalition might bring together (ANAP) with the junior Democratic Left Party (DSP). Holding the balance between these two might be the ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

But the DSP, MHP and most probably the CHP might fall short of a national 10 per cent voting threshold necessary for parliamentary representation, according to observers.