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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Q&A: Turkish election
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Campaign banners dominate the streets of Istanbul.

Turkey's ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won a resounding victory in general elections, according to near-complete results.

The early poll was called after the previous parliament failed to elect a successor to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

Why the early poll?

The Islamist-rooted AK Party was unable to muster a majority in parliament to elect its candidate, and a boycott by nationalist opposition parties rendered subsequent votes invalid. The AK Party wants the new parliament to elect the president, and has tabled constitutional amendments to reduce the quorum needed to do so. A referendum on the issue is expected in the coming months.

How did the parties rate?

The AK Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won almost 48% of the vote, with 80% of votes counted. This gives the party a big overall majority in the 550-member parliament. The AKP has mass support among the religious and conservative population of Anatolia, but says that rather than Islamist it is pluralist - meaning it defends the rights of religious Muslims against constitutional restrictions on open displays of faith. It has broadened its appeal by espousing European Union entry, democratic reform and extending the rights of the large Kurdish minority.

The main opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP), secured about 20% of the vote. It is a left-leaning and firmly secular party, which is also sceptical of reforms promoted by the EU and of extending Kurdish rights. It promoted mass rallies prior to the election campaign to suggest that an AKP president would put that party in a position to change the secular nature of the constitution.

The far-right, nationalist National Action Party (MHP) won about 15% of the vote, becoming the only other party likely to overcome the 10% threshold required to enter parliament. It is hostile to the EU and Kurdish rights, and advocates military intervention in northern Iraq to root out bases of the separatist Kurdish PKK group.

Who else might make it into parliament?

Significant numbers of independent MPs, sponsored unofficially by the pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DTP), are expected to win seats. As independents they are not restricted by the 10% threshold, which tends to redistribute votes from "failed" parties to their second preference - usually the AKP.

Was the presidency the only election issue?

By no means. The AKP government's economic record, the perceived tardiness of the European Union in dealing with Turkey's membership application, the question of whether to raid northern Iraq, and - as ever - the role the armed forces claim as protectors of the constitution were all factors voters took into account when casting their ballots.

Will the election decide anything?

After the AKP's convincing victory, one of the key questions is how the country's secular establishment, including the powerful military, will react.

The procedure for electing the president will be decided at the forthcoming referendum, and the other factors do not lend themselves to immediate decisions.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.






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