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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 08:55 GMT
Analysis: Turkey's war on poll winners
Erdogan supporters
The AK party's is the country's most popular in polls

Turkey's Justice and Development Party, has won a landslide victory in the country's general election, despite government attempts to ban it.

The party won 34% of the vote, and was one of only two parties to cross the 10% barrier needed to enter parliament.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Erdogan stresses his support for Turkey's secular system
The party - founded last year - is regarded as the moderate and modernist wing of Turkey's pro-Islamist movement.

Its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says he objects to the "pro-Islamist" label and has stressed his support for multi-party democracy, Turkey's secular system and Turkish membership of the European Union.

Mr Erdogan is a charismatic personality, and his party's pledges to improve social welfare have proved popular in a country suffering the effects of an economic austerity drive.

Its popularity is also helped by the fractured nature of Turkey's political centre and centre-left - and the fact that as a relatively new party, it has not been tainted by the political mistakes or scandals of recent years.

Suspicion

But both the powerful Turkish military and rival politicians remain suspicious of Mr Erdogan's motives.

They view Islamism and Kurdish nationalism as the two biggest threats to a united secular Turkish state and suspect that Mr Erdogan may be hiding his true political colours until after the election.

Turkey's banned Islamic parties
1971: National Order Party banned after military coup
1980: National Salvation Party shut down after coup
1998: Welfare Party banned
June 2001: Virtue Party banned

The bid to ban the party is the latest in a series of court actions against pro-Islamist and pro Kurdish parties and politicians over recent years.

The country's first pro-Islamist prime minister was forced to resign and two successive pro-Islamist parties have been banned.

But recent constitutional reforms in Turkey - aimed at paving the way for eventual EU membership - should make it more difficult to implement such bans.

Even if the current court action is successful - which some commentators believe is unlikely - it could take more than a year for it to be implemented.

Commentators who warned that the court action could prompt more people to vote for the party may have been proved right.

Turkey's election

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01 Oct 02 | Europe
16 Sep 02 | Europe
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