Mr Ecevit acknowledged on Saturday that he had been unable to put together a coalition since the fall of the conservative-led government last month amid accusations of corruption. He predicted that the collapse of his talks with bickering parliamentary rivals could bring back Islamists who were forced out of power 18 months ago by the military.
Mr Ecevit, whose talks excluded parliament's largest group, the Muslim- oriented Virtue Party, said: "An interim government, most probably involving Virtue, will be formed."
Mr Ecevit, a secularist who regards Virtue's loyalty to Turkey's constitution as deeply suspect, yesterday said he would hand back the mandate to form a government to President Suleyman Demirel today.
Mr Demirel must now appoint someone else to form Turkey's sixth government since 1995. Any administration would probably only govern until April, when early elections are scheduled.
Virtue is the successor to the Welfare Party, outlawed in January for attempting to subvert the constitution. (Reuters)