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Sunday, 29 April, 2001, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Ecevit retains party leadership
Bulent Ecevit
Ecevit: Said to be out of touch with the ways of the world
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has been re-elected leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) by a comfortable margin.


I will work day and night to be worthy of the trust you have placed in me

Bulent Ecevit
Ecevit received 963 votes against 86 for challenger Sema Piskinsut, a human rights campaigner and one of the few women in the country's parliament.

In a brief acceptance speech, Mr Ecevit said: "I will work day and night to be worthy of the trust you have placed in me."

Earlier, the prime minister pledged to rescue his country from its current financial crisis, which has seen the currency collapse and inflation soar.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Row with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer led to economic crisis
Mr Ecevit, who has been criticised over his handling of the economy, told the congress that his government had no intention of resigning.

Instead, he said that while the suffering would continue for a time, in the end the battle would be won.

No resignation

Before Turkey's economy went into a tail spin in February, there had been persistent rumours that Mr Ecevit was thinking of stepping down.


We are leading an intense economic battle and we will win this battle

Bulent Ecevit
But he reaffirmed on Sunday that he would carry on with his fight to rebuild the country's finances.

"A government change would hinder efforts to put the economy on track. We are leading an intense economic battle and we will win this battle," he said to rapturous applause.

It was Mr Ecevit's decision to publicise a row he had with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and to describe it as a serious crisis which triggered financial turmoil and led to the collapse of the Turkish lira.

He has been pilloried by the opposition and there have been numerous calls for him to resign.

Survivor

Mr Ecevit still holds a strong grip on the party he founded and he believes he is the only man who can hold a stable coalition government together.

But he faced a determined challenge for the leadership from Ms Piskinsut, a deputy known for her uncompromising stance on human rights issues.

Ms Piskinsut refused to withdraw her candidacy, despite being called a traitor by delegates and being prevented from making a speech to the congress.

Correspondents say the events of the last two months have left an impression of Bulent Ecevit as an ageing politician, somewhat out of touch with the way the world works.

But Mr Ecevit is a survivor. He was first elected as prime minister more than 25 years ago and he has maintained a reputation for honesty in an often dirty political system.

He intends to leave politics at a time of his own choosing and he believes he still has work to do.

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See also:

27 Apr 01 | Europe
Turkish energy minister resigns
26 Apr 01 | Business
Turkey 'to win $10bn rescue package'
22 Feb 01 | Business
Turkish banks at root of crisis
22 Feb 01 | Business
Turkey's currency slides
06 Dec 00 | Business
IMF agrees Turkish loans
19 Feb 01 | Europe
Turkish political crisis deepens
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Turkey
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