Premier Turgut Ozal’s Motherland Party suffered a crushing defeat in nationwide local elections, winning only three mayoral races in Turkey’s 67 provincial capitals, unofficial returns showed today.
The governing party finished third in the provincial assembly elections behind the leftist Social Democrat Populist Party, the chief opposition group, and the conservative True Path Party of former six-time Premier Suleyman Demirel, according to nearly complete tallies provided by state radio and the Anatolia news agency.
Opposition parties described Sunday’s elections as a referendum on Ozal’s free-market economic policies. Ozal had said he would quit if opposition gains were large enough to make it difficult for him to govern.
But today, Ozal said he would stay on until the next elections, scheduled for 1992. “The nation gave us a mandate until 1992; we will be serving the nation until then,” the 61-year-old premier said at a news conference.
“The people knew the party in power would not change as a result of these elections. They wanted to give us a message: to bring down inflation faster,” Ozal said.
He said, “A little warning was intended by the voters, but it went a bit too far.”
In the provincial assembly elections, the Social Democrats gained 28% of the nationwide vote, and the True Path had 25.5%, the returns showed. Ozal’s party was in third place with 22%.