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Turkey's ruling party heading for another election victory

Source : Xinhuanet
Ankara | 19 May 2011

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is heading toward an easy victory in the upcoming June 12 elections as an opinion poll showed Wednesday that 45.5 percent of voters support the party.

The AKP, led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saw its votes decrease by one percentage point from the votes its scored in the last general elections in 2007, the daily Aksam ( Evening) reported, citing the survey of polling company IKSara.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which has been running with its new leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has increased its votes to 30.5 percent from 20.7 percent in 2007, said the report.

The second biggest opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) got 13.1 percent of votes in the poll, facing the risk of declining below the 10 percent election threshold, which will prevent it from gaining seats at the parliament.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had 6.4 percent of the votes, according to the survey, which covered 2,504 voters from all the 81 provinces of Turkey.

The AKP came to power in 2002 and won the 2007 elections with a powerful 46.58-percent majority to win 341 seats. The CHP gained 20.88 percent of votes to win 112 seats and the MHP won 14.27 percent and 71 seats, while 26 independent candidates were elected as lawmakers.

As the election race heated up, political row deepened with the wave of "tape scandals" hitting Turkey's nationalist party.

Four politicians from the MHP resigned on May 10 after a website posted videos about their extramarital affairs.

An anonymous letter titled "different nationalist" was published earlier this week on a website, urging the MHP head Devlet Bahceli to resign by May 18 and threatening to release more "sex tape scandals" of his closest aides.

The website announced Wednesday it had more videos of six other senior MHP members and called for the party leader to step down.

Bahceli said Wednesday that his party would "not give in to threats and blackmail" and no other party officials would resign over any new videos.

"I am not going anywhere. I am at my post as the leader of the party," Bahceli told reporters Wednesday in Kastamonu province of Turkey.

The MHP leader accused supporters of the ruling party of being behind the videos to hurt his party, saying "the ruling party is using this as a political material."

Erdogan rejected allegations that his party was behind the tapes, assuring that the authorities were trying to block the dissemination of the videos on the Internet.

"Bahceli is trying to blame the government for his internal problems," Erdogan responded Wednesday.

In his election campaign, Erdogan has promised that the new parliament's first job would be to draft a new constitution to replace the 1982 constitution, which was adopted after a military coup.

The AKP targets 367 seats in the parliament, which is the number of votes needed for the endorsement of a new constitution.

If the MHP surpasses the 10-percentage threshold, the party will have at least 50 deputies in the parliament, making it difficult for the AKP to pass the new constitution without being challenged.

Turkey is scheduled to hold the general elections on June 12 with 15 political parties running for 550 seats in the parliament.


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