ISTANBUL, NOV. 30 -- Turkish Prime Minister Turgut Ozal won an absolute parliamentary majority in yesterday elections, according to nearly complete results today that gave his center-right Motherland Party 292 out of 450 seats.
The victory was seen here as a clear endorsement of Ozal's efforts to strengthen Turkey's ties to the West.
"This was a vote for continuity of all that Ozal represents," said Sami Cohen, a foreign affairs columnist of the Istanbul daily Milliyet. "It means the people want the political and economic stability that Ozal has come to represent."
With 99 percent of the vote counted, officials said the center-left Social Democratic Populist Party of Erdal Inonu had won 99 seats and the conservative True Path Party had taken 59. In a press conference, Ozal played down criticism of the proportional representation system that had given his party 64 percent of the seats with its 36 percent of the vote. The system had been designed to provide fewer but stronger parties in parliament, he said.
The results underlined that links to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the presence of U.S. military facilities are not the contentious issues here that they have been in two other NATO members in the Mediterranean -- Spain and Greece. The issue of the roughly 20 U.S. military and intelligence facilities in Turkey was not even raised in the campaign. Only one of the seven main parties opposed Ozal's policy of seeking membership in the European Community.
While Spanish and Greek public opinion have prompted leaders in those countries to promise a reduction or withdrawal of U.S. forces, Ozal's government is expected to do no more than continue to ask for greater military and economic aid in return for maintaining U.S. bases here.
Ozal's victory left him only a few seats short of a two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution to permit a restructuring of the government and to legalize communism, which is currently banned. In a press conference in Ankara, the capital, Ozal predicted that the Motherland Party would be able to amend the constitution via referendums. amber of Deputies, the national vote was seen here as a clear endorsement of Ozal's efforts to move Turkey closer, rather than further, from the west.
"The issue of the U.S. military presence here i