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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 06:54 GMT
Turkish elections: Key parties
Deputies from AK applaud parliament's decision to hold snap elections
AK is expected to do well in the elections
Eighteen parties contested Turkey's election on Sunday, but only two crossed the 10% threshold to win seats in parliament.

Nearly all parties support Turkey's ambition to join the EU and the economic recovery programme backed by a $16bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.

A selection of them are profiled below.

Poll toppers:


The AK (Justice and Development) Party

AK - meaning white, or pure - is way ahead of the other parties, scoring more than 34% in the polls.

Recep Tayyip
Recep Tayyip's party tops the polls
The party was formed last year by moderate members of Turkey's outlawed pro-Islamic Virtue Party, but promotes itself as a modern, conservative, secular party.

Some voters nonetheless suspect that it nurtures a pro-Islamic agenda, and could find itself in conflict with other state institutions, such as the army, if it comes to power.

Its leader, the youthful and charismatic former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is banned from holding political office because of a 1998 conviction for Islamist sedition.

However, his party may seek to overturn the ban after the election.

The AK party's vote delivered a massive majority in parliament because only one other party crossed the 10% threshold.

Republican People's Party (CHP)

The CHP is a centre-left party founded by the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in 1923.

It scored nearly 20% in Sunday's vote, a marked improvement on its performance at the last general election when it failed to clear the 10% barrier for the first time in its history.

In the current political climate, marked by widespread disillusionment with the outgoing parliament and government, the CHP clearly benefited from a protest vote.

It was also seen as a "life raft" by voters who regarded the AK Party's Islamist roots with suspicion.

Financial markets backed the CHP, because the architect of the country's economic recovery plan, Kemal Dervis, joined the party when he resigned as Finance Minister in the last government.

True Path (DYP)

The main conservative opposition party is led by the charismatic Tansu Ciller.

A US-trained economist, she was the country's first female prime minister from 1993-96.

The party was dogged by corruption scandals while she was in office and she ended up sharing power with Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan.

Tansu Ciller
Tansu Ciller: Strong support in Anatolia

They both stepped down under pressure from the country's powerful generals - the defenders of the secular order.

She has, however, remained central to Turkish politics.

The DYP retains a powerful nationalist constituency in the rural areas of Anatolia.

The Young Party

Founded only in July, the Young Party is a vehicle for controversial multi-millionaire media baron, Cem Uzan.

It won some popularity with vows to kick out the IMF, give land to the poor, slash taxes and quadruple the number of universities.

Its rallies featured free meals and concerts by top pop stars.

Mr Uzan vows to root out corruption, though he himself is being sued for $3bn by two global telecommunications giants on fraud accusations under US anti-racketeering laws.

Critics describe him as a xenophobe, who has used his media outlets and mobile phone company to boost his own campaign in violation of electoral rules.

The Democratic Left Party (DSP)

Prime Minister Ecevit
Prime Minister Ecevit's party is struggling
The DSP party of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit was, until this summer, the biggest in the parliament, and the leader of the three-party coalition government.

But in July about half of its deputies - including a number of government ministers - quit.

The coalition was paralysed by internal divisions while the ailing 77-year-old Mr Ecevit spent weeks in hospital or convalescing at home.

He defied calls to resign and call early elections for as long as he could.

The DSP party combines nationalist and centre-left tendencies.

Turkey's economic crisis began with a public row between Mr Ecevit and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in February 2001, after Mr Sezer said the government was too passive in the fight against corruption.

The Nationalist Action Party (MHP)

The right-wing MHP contributed to the crisis in the outgoing government by resisting reforms designed to ease Turkey's entry into the EU.

It was particularly upset by the abolition of the death sentence - which meant that jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan could not be executed - and by moves to allow broadcasting and education in the Kurdish language.

It has also cast doubt on aspects of the IMF's reform programme, grumbling about foreign interference.

Its "grey wolf" followers were very active in left-right street battles in the 1970s but under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli it cultivates a more moderate image.

Motherland Party (Anap)

Motherland, the third member of the outgoing coalition contributed to the government crisis by demanding the formation of a pro-European government excluding the MHP.

Its leader, former Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, pressed for the human rights reforms that the MHP opposed.

The party has been blighted by corruption allegations, which could be a particular problem in this election, where corruption has been a major issue.

New Turkey Party

This is a new pro-Europe political movement formed by two defectors from the DSP - former Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and former Deputy Prime Minister Husamettin Ozkan.

Overnight, New Turkey became the fifth largest party in parliament, with the support of more than 60 defectors from DSP.

Ismail Cem
Former Foreign Minister Ismail Cem failed to recruit Kemal Dervis
However, it failed in its bid to recruit Economy Minister Kemal Dervis, who joined the CHP instead.

Mr Dervis had been hoping to build an alliance between New Turkey and CHP.

When Mr Cem refused to take part, saying his party would run under its own banner, Mr Dervis said it would be a "contradiction" for him to join the party, because it was "not involved" in efforts to unite the centre-left.

One problem for the party is that the centre ground of Turkish politics is already crowded with established parties, and New Turkey has no local or provincial organisations.

Felicity Party (SP)

This is the second party to emerge from the banning of the Virtue Party, which was banned for anti-secular activities.

It is openly pro-Islamic, and maintains contact with the banned former Islamist Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan.

He appeared at SP rallies during the campaign.

Party leader Recai Kutan has been quoted in recent days vowing to "rid Turkey of the IMF plague".

Turkey's generals are very suspicious of the SP.

Democratic People's Party (Dehap)

Dehap is a pro-Kurdish alliance between the People's Democracy Party (Hadep), the Toil Party (Emep) and the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP).

Kurdish demonstrate for rights
Kurds have long demonstrated for rights
It was formed partly to pre-empt moves by the courts to ban Hadep, which has been accused of having links to separatist Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Emep and the SDP were also too weak to run for election independently.

Emep leader Akin Birdal, a human rights activist who was shot by right-wing gunmen in 1998, is banned from standing for office.

Dehap is popular in the mainly Kurdish south-east, and urban centres with many Kurdish migrants.

As there are 12 million Kurds in Turkey, it is perhaps surprising that Hadep did not cross the 10% barrier.

Democratic Turkey Party (DTP)

This is a small centre-right party led by a young former diplomat Mehmet Ali Bayar.

Mr Bayar worked most recently at Turkey's Washington embassy and has served as an advisor to former President Suleyman Demirel.

Turkey's election

Key stories




See also:

27 Jul 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
25 Jul 02 | Europe
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20 Jul 02 | Europe
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