Turkey: Continuity and Change after Elections

The April 18, 1999 election in Turkey reflected growing nationalism, a weakening of the political center, and a desire for more honest leadership. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit of the Democratic-Left Party (DSP) is continuing in office, joined by the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and Motherland Party (ANAP). Ecevit and ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz have prior government experience. MHP's Devlet Bahceli does not, and his purported success in moderating the ultra-right MHP is being tested. DSP and ANAP control ministries of foreign and macroeconomic policy significance, while MHP holds portfolios important for its ideology and constituents in Turkey's Anatolian heartland. All agree on overall economic policies needed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. The government may last longer than its immediate predecessors, given its hefty majority, but multi-party coalitions are inherently unstable and the historic distrust between DSP and MHP could dim its prospects. There are many issues to engage U.S. and Turkish officials: democratization, human rights, Greece, Cyprus, pipelines, the European Union, Iraq, and arms transfers. For background, see CRS Report RS20030(pdf) Turkey: Government Update ; CRS Report 97-840(pdf) , Turkey: Situation Update ; and CRS Report 97-462, Turkey's Unfolding Political Crisis . This report will not be updated.