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Tansu Çiller

(b. 1945)

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(1945– )

Turkish economist who served as Turkey's first woman prime minister (1993–95).

Tansu Çiller was born in Istanbul and educated locally and at Yale. Upon marriage, she achieved the highly unusual distinction of persuading her husband to change his surname to hers, contrary to the normal Turkish custom. After becoming the youngest professor of economics in the national university system, Dr Çiller joined the conservative True Path Party (DYP) in 1990, becoming an MP and a minister in 1991. In 1993 she became party leader and prime minister.

As prime minister she introduced economic reforms, including widespread privatization, and ordered a security clampdown on Kurdish separatists in the south. Rampant inflation, a stock market crash, and a devastating fall in the value of the currency combined to bring about electoral defeat in 1995. However, she personally survived to serve as deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs in subsequent coalitions before losing office entirely in 1997. She was cleared of corruption charges in 1996.

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