Pro-Islamic Welfare wins famous victory

Turkish elections: The Army is alarmed as ex-detainee's party upsets the Establishment

In one of the more extraordinary upsets in Turkey's 73-year-old republic, a pro-Islamic party overtook the squabbling secularist establishment to form the biggest faction in the parliament founded by Kemal Ataturk.

The veteran Welfare Party leader, Necmettin Erbakan, yesterday claimed a famous victory as results came in from 24 December's general elections, even though he won with just 21.32 per cent of the vote that brought him 158 deputies in the 550-seat assembly. "The people have chosen the Welfare Party," said the flamboyant Mr Erbakan, 69, flushed with success after years of being mocked in the political wilderness.

The prime minister, Tansu Ciller resigned, though she will stay on as caretaker until President Suleyman Demirel nominates her successor. As Mr Erbakan demanded that he be chosen, he was cheered by supporters watching him on television, some of them young militants in turbans shouting "Allah- u-Akbar (God is Great).

But Mr Erbakan needs a parliamentary majority, or 276 deputies to vote for his government programme. Mr Demirel said last week he will seek such a premier. The hint was directed at Mrs Ciller of the True Path Party and Motherland Party leader Mesut Yilmaz, who were close runners-up in the election.

The army will also be watching closely, having jailed Mr Erbakan for eight months during its last 1980-83 military take-over and charged him with trying to set up an Islamic state. Mr Erbakan was acquitted in 1985.

The officer corps purged dozens of suspected Islamic sympathisers from its ranks this month and is said to be keen that Mrs Ciller and Mr Yilmaz on the centre-right patch up their rivalry and unite to save the republican order.

"The Turkish armed forces are the unwavering guardians of Ataturk's nationalism ... they have adopted a contemporary, democratic, secular world view, and have always stood against zealotry and reaction," the Chief of General Staff, Ismail Hakki Karadayi warned before the elections.

Parliamentary arithmetic will not help the establishment. Mrs Ciller did unexpectedly well, winning about 135 seats with 19.20 per cent of the vote. Mr Yilmaz won 132 seats with 19.66 per cent.

But that does not make 276 votes, even if Mr Yilmaz can overcome years of animosity with "that woman" Mrs Ciller.

They would have to form a government with one or both of the left-wing parties, former premier Bulent Ecevit's Democratic Left Party, which won 75 seats with 14.65 per cent of the vote, or Deniz Baykal's Republican People's Party, which won 50 seats with 10.71 per cent.

Others among the 12 competing parties failed to surmount a 10 per cent national threshold. In a calm election with a big turnout of 85 per cent, the Kurdish nationalist left-wing party HADEP won only 4.17 per cent of the vote, showing that many Kurds, perhaps 20 per cent of the population, prefer mainstream parties.

The Turkish nationalist "Grey Wolves" of the National Action Party also fell short of the threshold, polling just 8.18 per cent.

"We must find a workable government, without prejudice," said Mr Yilmaz yesterday. He did not rule out talks with Mrs Ciller and he said he would talk with Mr Erbakan's Islamists "if they changed their philosophy."

Mr Erbakan, however, clearly hopes that as prime minister-designate it is he who will be persuading conservatives in Mr Yilmaz's party to join him.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam