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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Turkey kills bid to delay election
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Erdogan's party has been leading the polls
The Turkish parliament has voted to go into recess until elections next month, blocking a motion from a group of parliamentarians to postpone the poll.


This is a good result for our entire people

Bulent Ecevit
The attempt to delay the election was made by parties and members of parliament who fear they will fail to win seats.

Correspondents say it could have caused a constitutional crisis, leaving the government struggling to stay together.

"This is a good result for our entire poeple," said veteran Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who himself grudgingly came to accept the need for elections as his government began to unravel in July.

The stock market rose nearly 2.5% on the news.

Warning

Turkey's most popular party, the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AK) warned this week that postponing the elections would destroy the credibility of parliament.

The party's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been banned from standing in the election because of a conviction for Islamist "sedition".

However, AK is expected to score a clear victory, while at least two of the parties in Mr Ecevit's three-party coalition are expected to lose all their seats.

Turkey's political crisis was triggered by disputes between the coalition partners over human rights legislation needed to promote Turkey's bid to join the EU.

It was aggravated by Mr Ecevit's chronic ill health, and long absences spent either in hospital, or convalescing.

Elections would not otherwise have been due until 2004.

Political wilderness

The vote for the recess was taken by a show of hands.

Parliament speaker Omer Izgi said 191 voted for the recess and 170 against.

The military and the president were among those arguing against an election delay, on the grounds that it could throw the country into chaos.

The US is eager for stability in a country it will look to for support in any military campaign against Iraq.

Among the deputies voting against the recess were some who had been dropped from their party's list of candidates.

Mr Ecevit, aged 77, is one of the deputies facing the political wilderness.

His Democratic Left Party (DSP) is currently well short of the 10% threshold needed to get into parliament.


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16 Sep 02 | Europe
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