Ecevit Loses First Phase of Censure Bid

ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on Thursday lost the initial stage of a parliamentary vote to topple his caretaker government–jeopardizing the administration’s plans for April elections.

"With 240 for and 211 against–the vote to put a censure debate on the agenda has been accepted," Speaker Yasin Hatipoglu said after a vote in the assembly.

The speaker said a full debate of the censure bid would take place on Saturday with a final vote likely to be held on Monday.

The opposition alliance will have to muster 276 votes in order to overturn Ecevit’s government in the final vote. Markets rose almost four percent on Thursday on rising confidence that Ecevit would easily survive the final vote.

The censure motion was proposed by an unlikely alliance between the Islamist opposition and dissenting deputies who want to see the April 18 elections postponed.

Turkey’s powerful military said on Thursday that they did not want the dissidents to achieve their aim of delaying polls or to see the Islamists use the turmoil to push for the repeal of sedition laws used to prosecute party figures.

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