The people of Turkey will be voting next Sunday (June 5th) for a new Parliament and government.
The people of Turkey will be voting next Sunday (June 5th) for a new Parliament and government. The election is being held four months early, in the hope that a government will emerge which is strong enough to deal with Turkey's two major problems; an acute economic crisis and political violence.
SYNOPSIS: In the last elections, in 1973, Mr. Bulent Ecevit and his Republican People's Party, who are social democrats, broke the hold of the Justice Party. But they did not have an absolute majority in Parliament, and had to form a coalition government.
During his premiership, Turkey made a dramatic move of International significance: her invasion of northern Cyprus in defence of the Turkish community there. This was extremely popular with the Turkish people at home, and Mr. Ecevit received an enthusiastic welcome on his first visit to Istanbul after the invasion.
But behind the facade of popularity, his coalition was breaking up. Within a month of these celebrations, he had resigned.
The man who precipitated the crisis was the Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Necmettin Erbakan. His National Salvation Party, which campaigns for traditional Islamic values, came a poor third in the 1973 elections. But the 48 seats it held in Parliament meant that neither of the major parties could form a government without it.
An independent, Professor Sadi Irmak, assembled a non-party government which lasted for four months. Then Mr. Demirel of the Justice Party formed a coalition.
Student violence, centred on the University of Istanbul, started up shortly after Mr. Ecevit's resignation. The student demonstrators, most of whom were left-wing, clashed many times with young militants of the extreme right Nationalist Action Party.
AS the election approaches, the violence has grown into something more than street brawls. Bombs have exploded, machine guns have been in evidence. Since the beginning of this year, more than a hundred people have died. Both major parties have put themselves forward as best placed to restore law and order.
Mr. Ecevit's Republican People's Party did well in the Senate elections in October 1975. They are given the best chance of winning enough seats to get an absolute majority. Then Mr. Ecevit would be able to form a government without the support of Professor Erbakan.
His major rival is Mr. Suleyman Demiral, leader of the Justice Party, and Present Prime Minister. President Jimmy Carter recently had special meetings with him and the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Karamanlis -- which underlines the importance of a stable Turkish government, both to a Cyprus settlement and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The big campaign issues are: public order, unemployment and inflation. Unemployment has risen with the return of migrant workers from western Europe. Inflation last year was about 25 per cent. The Turkish elector will be voting for a job; peace to get on with it; and value for his pay.