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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 14:15 GMT
Turkish parties' changing fortunes
A woman walks in a street decorated with pre-election flags in the village of Kecioren near Ankara
The poll could spell trouble for many of the old parties

Turkey's voters go to the polls on 3 November for what could be one of the most unpredictable and dramatic elections in the country's recent history.

Turkey's ups and downs
February 2002: IMF approves $16bn loans for Turkey
May: PM Bulent Ecevit, in hospital, stays away from political life, starting a crisis
July: A series of resignations plagues Ecevit's party
August: Turkey adopts a number of EU-oriented reforms

According to the opinion polls, many of the well-established parties are faring badly and may not even reach the overall 10% of votes needed to win parliamentary seats.

It is true that Turkish opinion polls have sometimes got things wrong in the past.

But, if they are right, this election could spell major trouble for many of Turkey's long-established political parties.

Popular disillusionment with their policies, their bickering, and even corruption, appears to be turning voters away from them in droves.

Many Turks blame the established parties for creating the economic crisis which has brought unemployment and poverty over past two years.

Republican exception

The only exception is the country's oldest political party - the Republican Peoples' Party - which failed to win any parliamentary seats in the last election, but is now experiencing a political resurgence.

If the polls prove correct, a number of well-known politicians may find themselves - and their parties - excluded from parliament.

They include the outgoing Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, who has served as premier no less than five times, along with the leaders of the two junior coalition parties, nationalist Devlet Bahceli and Mesut Yilmaz, self-appointed head of Turkey's campaign to join the European Union.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been barred from running in the election

The party of Tansu Ciller, another former prime minister, may also be in jeopardy, hovering around the crucial 10% mark in the polls.

And former Foreign Minister Ismail Cem's New Turkey Party is struggling badly.

Mr Cem formed New Turkey this summer in the hope of joining Turkey's fractious left and centre-left in a loose coalition to fight these elections and prevent the Islamists taking power.

But he failed to persuade them to unite.

Meanwhile, another well-known figure who definitely will not be serving in the next parliament is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the frontrunner in the polls, the Justice and Development Party.

He has been barred from standing in the election because he was convicted of sedition in 1999.

Turkey's election

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16 Oct 02 | Europe
01 Oct 02 | Europe
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