Ecevit Wins Confidence Vote

ANKARA (Reuters)–Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit easily won a parliamentary vote of confidence for a leftist-nationalist coalition on Wednesday–raising hopes for a return of stable government to Turkey.

Ecevit’s Democratic Left Party (DSP)–the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and the conservative Motherland party won 354 votes in the 550-seat assembly–well over the absolute majority needed.

Expectations of a stable government committed to structural reforms sought by the International Monetary Fund have buoyed markets recently. Ecevit has promised a return to single digit inflation by the end of 2001–substantially down from some 50 percent now.

"We will fulfill our duty to work in harmony," Ecevit–three times prime minister in the 1970s–said in a brief address.

Though the arithmetic is encouraging–suggesting that the swift passage of four governmen’s since 1995 could soon be forgotten–the coalition has its innate conflicts. Before the April 18 polls–a DSP-MHP alliance was unthinkable.

Supporters of both parties had been on opposite sides of the barricades in 1970s violence that killed 5,000 people and led to an army takeover.

The MHP insists it has abandoned past radical ways and its links with violent "Grey Wolf" groups–but many in the DSP view it with extreme suspicion.

In Turkey–however–party leaders wield considerable power and the relationship between Ecevit and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli will decide the government’s fate.

The two–sitting next to each other in the assembly–laughed and smiled as they talked before the vote.

In a sign of the speed with which the government intends to press promised economic reforms–a parliamentary commission withdrew to discuss a key banking law minutes after the vote on Wednesday.

The proposed law–envisaging tighter control of the sector–is seen as vital by financial markets.

Turkish officials are to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund around mid-June. Key economic and financial posts are in the hands of conservatives trusted by the IMF.

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