The Motherland Party (ANAP) and Refah Party continued talks about forming a coalition government on 21 February with prospects for a rotating premiership. However, the two sides were still wrangling about which party would control the finance portfolio as MEED went to press.

If the coalition goes ahead as expected, it will give Turkey its first Islamist prime minister, although the position is likely to be rotated. ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz is expected to hold the premiership first, followed by Refah leader Necmettin Erbakan. Local press reports say the two parties have also reached agreement on most of the ministerial posts. ANAP is expected to take the foreign, defence and education portfolios, while Refah is expected to head the Interior Ministry. Still to be decided is control of the Finance Ministry and state institutions.

The business community is keen to see the right-wing ANAP economic policy dominate any future coalition. Refah campaigned in the December elections on radical economic policies, which included scrapping the use of interest rates and renegotiating the customs union agreed with the EU. However, Refah has since moderated its stance.

In an interview with the local daily Hurriyet on 21 February, Yilmaz said that he was prepared to take the risk of a coalition with Refah. ‘But do not think the deal is almost done.. .We have not yet overcome all difficulties,’ he said. We have not begun discussing our joint programme. And we set a limit of the end-February for the completion of talks on the programme.’