Necmettin Erbakan


Who is he? Islamist leader of Turkey's Welfare Party (RP).

Why newsworthy? Appointed prime minister designate after the RP won more seats than any other party in inconclusive elections. Will have difficulty convincing secular parties to form a coalition government.

And? He assures the west there is nothing to fear from his success, although he'll take a strong independent line in foreign policy.

Such as? Wants to renegotiate trade pacts with the EU. Wants sanctions against Iraq eased. Wants to eject the allied western airforce from Turkey.

Has promised not to withdraw Turkey from Nato. Has promised to help the alliance "find a new identity" that was not opposed to Islam.

"We have no animosity towards anyone. Quite the opposite. Developing all kinds of relations will be to the ad vantage of both Turkey and the west.

But: His campaign rhetoric promised to scrap interest rates, do away with "world imperialism and Zionism as well as Israel and a handful of champagne drinking collaborators in the holding companies that feed it".

"When we get down to work we will set up an Islamic UN, an Islamic Nato and an Islamic version of the EU. We will create an Islamic currency," he said at an election gathering in December.

But what's he like? Born in Sinop (1926). Father was a travelling Islamic judge.

Trained as a mechanical engineer in Istanbul university.

Two years of research in west Germany failed to impress him with western ways.

Was deputy prime minister during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus (1974).

Served in that role in two coalition governments during the 1970s, although prime minister Bulent Ecevit refused him power of prime minister while abroad on trips (1974).

Arrested after the 1980 coup. Charged with trying to impose a religious regime. Acquitted (1985).

Once said in an interview:

"The West learned everything it knows from the Muslims."

Known as a man of grand ideas, often thin on detail.

Last word: Goes to Necmettin. "The Islamic world has 1.5 billion souls. An Islamic union will be created from Kazakhstan to Morocco. A new world will be created."