Turkey’s ruling party clinched a record landslide in Sunday’s parliamentary polls but appeared short of the two-thirds majority it needs to rewrite the constitution, unofficial results showed.
With more than 95% of the vote counted, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was leading with 50.3% of the vote for a third straight win, according to results on CNN Turk television. It was the party’s highest electoral score since it came to power in 2002.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was second with 25.9%, followed by the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) with 13.1%. The AKP got enough parliamentary seats to once again form the government on its own, but appeared to fall just short of the 330-seat majority in the 550-member parliament it was seeking to unilaterally amend the constitution, the legacy of a 1980 military coup. It was set to win 325 seats, according to CNN Turk.
Thousands of ecstatic supporters gathered outside AKP offices in Ankara, dancing and singing, as the refrain of the party’s election song “Come on, once more!” blared from loudspeakers.
More than 50 million people were eligible to vote, out of a population of some 73 million.
The AKP owes its enduring popularity mostly to economic success and improved public services following years of financial instability.
Under the AKP, the economy grew by 8.9% in 2010, outpacing global recovery, and per capita income has doubled to $10,079.
His economic credits aside, Erdogan – once the driving force of EU-sought reforms – has come under fire for autocratic tendencies and growing intolerance of criticism.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2011.
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