ANKARA (Reuter)-Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz won a parliamentary vote of confidence Saturday with an overwhelming majority since rival Tansu Ciller’s True Path party boycotted the proceedings–effectively giving a silent endorsement to the new prime minister.
"The only parliamentary solution that can be seen is a government formed by Mesut Yilmaz," said former central bank chief Yalman Toruner–who quit True Path to join Yilmaz’s Motherland Party.
Deputies gathered at 3 p.m. for the vote in Yilmaz’s left-right government–cobbled together two weeks ago to replace the Islamist-led coalition of fallen prime minister Necmettin Erbakan.
Yilmaz’ efforts to prevent a planned Islamist return to power are backed by President Suleyman Demirel and the army–now taking a more active role in politics.
A Yilmaz aide said the generals had stepped back from preparing to oust against Erbakan when it became clear that the secularist politicians could get rid of the Islamists.
"Talk of forming the government prevented a coup," Motherland deputy chairman Yasar Dedelek told a news conference. "That is why we are announcing July 12 as a democracy festival."
The anti-Islamist generals had openly criticized Erbakan–NATO member Turkey’s first Islamist leader–for failing to heed army warnings to curb Moslem activism. The brass also turned on the secularist True Path for cooperating with Erbakan.
Yilmaz has promised to introduce anti-Islamist legislation–particularly on education–and take Turkey closer to the European Union.
He has recently shown signs of backtracking on a promise to hold early elections next year–well before polls are due in the year 2000.
A key left-wing party warned it could withdraw its support for Yilmaz if he does not push elections legislation though parliament before a recess later this month.
"If there is no election law before the holiday we will reconsider our position," the Hurriyet daily quoted senior Republican People’s Party deputy Adnan Keskin as saying.
Three parliamentarians resigned from Tansu Ciller’s True Path Party on Monday–adding to a string of resignations which have sapped the party’s parliamentary strength and helped the new secularist government into power.
Dogan Gures–a career army officer who served as Turkey’s chief of general staff for four years before becoming a parliamentarian in 1995–submitted his resignation early on Monday morning–state-run Anatolian news agency said.
His resignation was followed later in the day by those of Mahmut Yilbas and Mustafa Zeydan–deputies from eastern Turkey.
The three were among seven deputies from Ciller’s True Path who failed to attend a crucial confidence vote on Turkey’s new secularist government on Saturday. The seven faced disciplinary measures by True Path–Turkish newspapers said on Monday.
The government–a loose alliance of left and right parties–won the vote against opposition from the previous coalition of Necmettin Erbakan’s Welfare Party and Ciller’s True Path.
The confidence motion came two weeks after the collapse of Erbakan and Ciller’s government–following months of dispute with Turkey’s fiercely secularist army.
Gures said in his letter of resignation–quoted by Anatolian–he had tried to persuade the pro-Western True Path to enter a coalition with other secularist parties and break its alliance with Welfare.
The number of True Path deputies has shrunk from 135 after the last election in 1995 to 95 on Monday as a result of the resignations and defections.
The latest parliamentarians to quit have not said whether they will join another party.