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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Turkish Alliance Faces Bitter Opposition

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's conservative parties, to the relief of the country's secularist elite and business sector, finally agreed to form a minority government coalition to thwart a strong bid for power by Islamists.


But the alliance will be hard pressed to deliver on its free-marketeering, pro-Western promise in the face of leftist and Islamist opposition and in view of the long-time animosity between the two conservative party leaders.


The Islamist Welfare Party, the biggest single bloc in the 550-seat parliament with 158 deputies, was already gearing up for determined opposition, embittered at being left on the sidelines.


The deal between caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and Motherland Party leader Mesut Yilmaz, who are bitter personal rivals, envisages a rotating premiership for the first time in Turkey.


"We are pleased to see that two parties which are close to one another have come to the stage of signing a coalition pact," Ciller told a news conference after it was signed on Sunday.


The Motherland Party, or ANAP, on Monday approved the coalition deal. "The protocol was passed by the group," ANAP Deputy Chairman Cumhur Ersumer told reporters after a meeting of party members of parliament. Under Sunday's plan, Yilmaz will serve as premier first, followed by Ciller for two years from the start of 1997. Yilmaz will take over for the fourth year before ceding to another member of Ciller's True Path Party.


Ciller, Turkey's first woman prime minister, will not sit in the cabinet under Yilmaz's premiership. Yilmaz, likewise, will sit out Ciller's leadership.


The leaders signed a 25-page program for their government, which plans to set out first to treat economic ills, such as 80 percent annual inflation and speed up sluggish privatization, and to tackle a Kurdish rebellion in the southeast.