AKP Wins Majority

AKP Wins Majority AKP Wins Majority

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was poised to win back a clear parliamentary majority on Sunday, according to early results from one of the country’s most critical elections in years.

The party founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had around 51% of the vote with more than 80% of ballots counted, CNN-Turk television reported. That would give it 325 seats in the 550-seat parliament, well ahead of its three main rival parties and easily enough to form a government on its own.

Opinion polls had predicted a replay of the June election when the AKP won just 40% of the vote and lost its majority for the first time in 13 years.

Voting  took place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time and an hour later in the rest of the country, with polling stations to close at 1400 GMT. A ban on announcing the results is in place until 1800 GMT but the election board usually lifts the ban before the official time.

Over 54 million people are registered to vote out of a population of nearly 78 million, with 2.9 million registered to vote abroad.          

“This election will be for continuity of stability and trust,” President Erdogan said Saturday after praying at a newly-built mosque in Istanbul.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a campaign rally in Ankara on Saturday that the election is a “referendum on Turkey’s future,” and added, “Turkey needs a strong and shrewd government at such a critical time.”

Since then, a ceasefire with Kurdish militants has collapsed, the Syria crisis has worsened and NATO-member Turkey has been hit by two Islamic State-linked suicide bomb attacks, killing more than 130.

Early voters in Istanbul were sharply divided in their views on a return to single-party rule or the prospect of a coalition.

“The AK Party says single-party rule will bring stability but we haven’t seen much of it in the last couple of years,” said 22-year-old nurse Gulcan. “We need a system of checks and balances, and a grand coalition will hopefully give us that.”

“Coalitions are just not good for Turkey. There has to be single-party rule for stability,” said 51-year-old Kahraman Tunc, voting with his wife and daughter. “For the sake of our country’s good, I hope there will be AK Party single-party rule.”

The election was prompted by the AKP’s inability to find a junior coalition partner after the June result. Erdogan’s critics say it represents a gamble by the combative leader to win back enough support so the party can eventually change the constitution and give him greater presidential powers.

Many polls suggest that the outcome is unlikely to be dramatically different to June, when it took 40.9% of the vote.

However, one survey released on Thursday suggested there had been a late surge in support for the AKP and that it could take as much as 47.2%, comfortably enough to secure more than half of the 550-seat parliament.