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Turkey to face early election

The two partners in Turkey's 11-month old coalition government yesterday announced that they would be calling early elections. Tansu Ciller, the deputy prime minister, will succeed Necmettin Erbakan as prime minister before the end of this month.

Mr Erbakan and Mrs Ciller defended the record of their government, and said that the election would be held "as soon as possible" and "in a reasonable time".

Mr Erbakan's Welfare Party - the first Islamist party to lead a government in modern Turkey - can expect to do well in a snap poll. Mrs Ciller's True Path Party, whose dissenting voices contributes to the government's disintegration, badly needs a breather before facing the voters. Mrs Ciller hopes that a stint as prime minister - however short - will help her rebuild morale amongst her exhausted colleagues.

For the moment, the short-term future of the government is dependent on its ability to co-opt the eight-strong Grand Union Party. The unionists are demanding amendments to the election law in return for entering the government.

Subject to unionist agreement, the government should be able to secure the parliamentary majority which it needs to hold an election. In practice the need to produce a new election law means a poll is unlikely before the autumn. Welfare is keen to go the polls before 1998, however.