Gloss begins to fade on Ciller's premiership

THE VULTURES are beginning to circle over the floundering seven-month-old premiership of Tansu Ciller, who rose to power as the glossy symbol of everything that Turkey would like to be but is now more a reminder of what it has failed to achieve.

Nothing seemed to go right for the youthful 47-year-old in January. The Turkish lira collapsed by 20 per cent, the stock market crashed to half its peak, inflation rose and interest rates soared - all only days after she had vowed that the opposite would happen.

If this were not galling enough for someone who has made much of her status as a professor of economics, even the fates seemed to be against her when Turkey's long-awaited first satellite was destroyed soon after take-off on board a mal- functioning Ariane rocket.

More disturbing, perhaps, has been Mrs Ciller's reaction to adversity - blaming everyone, it seems, except herself - her headstrong style and her fiscal policies. On Monday she shut herself up into her palatial yali by the Bosphorus as her central bank governor resigned in a slanging match about who was responsible for the mess.

Pressure is piling on to Turkey's first female prime minister. Her ruling True Path Party is in such disarray that it has virtually disappeared from the mainly Kurdish south-east of Turkey. In Istanbul, one group of angry constituents even hijacked and ate her lunch on its way to a back office where she was discussing candidates for the municipal elections in March.

The elections will be seen as an important signpost to Mrs Ciller's and Turkey's future in the political vacuum that was opened up after the death of President Turgut Ozal last April. In most cities, opinion polls show the True Path in second or third place behind the two other right-wing parties, Mr Ozal's old Motherland Party and the pro-Islamist Welfare Party. Tensions are growing with her predecessor as leader of the True Path Party, President Suleyman Demirel. One man she beat to replace Mr Demirel in June, Koksal Toptan, is making it clear he thinks that he is the best alternative.

'It is now clear that Mrs Ciller cannot govern Turkey,' said Mesut Yilmaz, the chief opposition leader and a powerful force now that most Turks have forgotten that he achieved little more during his recent period as premier.

It is too soon to talk of alternatives, however. Mrs Ciller is still feisty and believes she is far from finished, despite a note of desperation in increasingly frequent news conferences called to summon up the genie of media support that helped her so much before.

Foreign policy may prove a timely distraction and she has firm friends in the powerful Turkish armed forces. Newspapers have speculated that an air force blitz against a rebel base in northern Iraq was timed to take minds off the biggest devaluation of their currency since 1980 - something Mrs Ciller vigorously denies.

Then there is Mrs Ciller's visit to Bosnia with her Pakistani counterpart, Benazir Bhutto. Turkish media say that the United Nations has begged them not to go because it would provoke new bloodbaths. But Mrs Ciller knows her trip will be highly popular in a country where many of the elite have Ottoman-era links with the Balkans and all feel that the West has short-changed the Bosnian Muslims.

And although Mrs Ciller's misguided policies hastened this month's fiscal crisis, the crash was part of a long process. It is symptomatic of Turkey's ills that, instead of debating the underlying problems of growing trade and budget deficits, almost all the media have been consumed with the question of which banks bought how many central bank dollars at what price before the devaluation.

'The government decision-making system is completely locked up. I didn't see any point in staying on. A strong political will is needed,' said the former governor of the central bank when he announced his resignation. It is a warning that all Turkey would do well to take seriously, not just Mrs Ciller.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
musicYou'll have to ask Taylor Swift first
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our exclusive client in St Albans Hertfords...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Primary Teachers

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Hertfordshir...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ACCA/CIMA - St Albans, Hertfordshire

£55000 - £58000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street

£25000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - Londo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness