Turkish PM Unveils Plans to Restructure Ministries

Posted June 8th, 2011 at 1:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unveiled a plan to restructure the Cabinet by merging some ministries, scrapping others and creating six new ones, including one to oversee Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Mr. Erdogan announced the changes at a press conference Wednesday, just four days before Turkey holds parliamentary elections.

The reorganization will leave 25 ministries in the Cabinet, down from the current 27. In addition to the EU affairs ministry, the new ones include family and social policy, youth, customs, commerce and development.

Mr. Erdogan said the new Cabinet structure will go into effect after the June 12 vote.

Polls show Mr. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party is expected to win a third term in office.

Despite a survey released Tuesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, Turks said they are increasingly positive about the direction of their country and give Prime Minister Erdogan high marks on foreign affairs and the economy.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the way things are going — a significant increase from 2009, when about three-quarters of citizens felt the country was on the wrong track.

The survey said the findings were “strongly associated with religiosity.” Mr. Erdogan's Islamic-leaning ruling AK party is conservative on social matters and has challenged the country's strong secularist tradition.

The atmosphere in Turkey has been tense in the run-up to the elections. Last week, Mr. Erdogan blamed the opposition for provoking clashes ahead of the June 12 elections.

The leader of the far-right Nationalist Action Party , Devlet Bahceli, blamed the government for the recent tensions, accusing it of efforts to provoke separatists and escalate attacks.