The 36-seat municipal by-elections on 4 June strengthened Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and her coalition government, according to analysts. The result will enable her to resist the mounting pressure from the opposition and other quarters to call early general elections before they fall due in late 1996, they add.

Ciller’s conservative True Path Party (DYP) took 39.6 per cent of the vote, while its junior coalition partner, the social democrat Republican Peoples Party (CHP), secured a surprising 22.1 per cent. The coalition presently has a majority of 248 seats in the 450-member parliament.

On the other hand, the main opposition, conservative Motherland Party (ANP) fared dismally with 13.4 per cent, while the rising star last year of Turkish politics, the Islamic conservative Welfare Party (RP), took 17.44 per cent.

In local elections in March 1994, the social democrats lost most votes of all parties to a surge by the Islamists, who took Ankara and Istanbul amongst a string of victories countrywide.

According to analysts before calling a general election Ciller will want to consolidate the by-election victory with a number of policy-related achievements. In particular, she will want to make progress on entry into an EU customs union in 1996 and a related democratisation package.