Once seen as just the modern, educated person to lead her country forward, the woman who rose to become Turkey's first female premier has fallen from grace.
Hurt first by corruption allegations, then by an unpopular alliance with an Islamic party, Tansu Ciller's once formidable popularity is taking further hits from a new book that portrays her as a politician without scruples."Masked Lady," by Faruk Bildirici, a journalist with the anti-Ciller Hurriyet daily, hit Turkey's best sellers' list as soon as it was published in July.
Based on extensive interviews, the book depicts Ciller as a scheming, stubborn woman driven by a lust for power. "People had a need
to know Mrs. Ciller," Bildirici said in a television interview.
It claims Ciller and her husband, who acknowledge having no savings in the early days of their marriage, became rich through shady business deals in a collapsed bank and a housing development scheme, swindling even their closest friends.
According to the book, Ciller allegedly helped herself to money from a government discretionary fund for personal expenses, including paying thousands of dollars to a New York hotel after her son allegedly wrecked the presidential suite.
The Cillers have not commented publicly on the book.
A U.S.-educated economist, Ciller beat more experienced politicians to take the helm of Turkey's male-dominated society in 1993. She served until 1996, when she formed an alliance with the Islamic party despite earlier assurances that she would save Turkey from radical Islam.
The alliance, under which she was deputy premier, marked her downfall. The coalition was ousted from power under pressure from the staunchly pro-secular military.
"She had uttered the harshest words against (the Islamic party) in her election campaigns," Bildirici wrote. In the end, "she preferred to forget what she had said."
Bildirici rejects accusations that the book is all negative. "The book says she has an IQ of 160 - which I think is something to be proud of," he said.