Backgrounder: Major political parties running in Turkey's parliamentary elections

09:44, June 13, 2011      

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More than 50 million Turks went to polls Sunday to elect a new parliament, with 15 political parties running for 550 parliamentary seats.

Parties must win at least 10 percent of the national vote to earn seats in the parliament, or the Great National Assembly.

A total of 7,492 candidates from the major political parties and 203 independent candidates are competing in the country's 24th parliamentary elections.

Voting started at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) and will end at 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) in eastern provinces. In western provinces, voting lasts from 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) to 5 p.m. (1400 GMT).

The following are brief introductions to major political parties running in the elections:

--The Justice and Development Party (AKP): Led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's ruling AKP was established in 2001 as a conservative, mild Islamist center-right party. It advocates rule of law, modern republican form of government and liberal market economy. The elections in November 2002 put the AKP in single-party rule, ending the history of coalition governments since 1987. In the July 2007 elections, the AKP secured a second term in office with 46.5 percent of votes. It now has 331 seats in parliament. Recent polls showed the AKP is likely to win a third term.

--The Republican People's Party (CHP): Established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who created the secular republic of Turkey in 1923, the CHP is Turkey's second biggest party and serves as the main opposition. It advocates social democracy and nationalism and is faithful to secularism. In 2010, a sexual video scandal forced Deniz Baykal, who had steered the CHP for nearly two decades, to resign and Kemal Kilicdaroglu took his place as party chairman. The CHP won 20.7 percent of votes in 2007 elections and now has 102 seats in parliament.

--The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP): Founded in 1969 and chaired by Devlet Bahceli, the far-right nationalist MHP is the third biggest party in Turkey. The MHP failed to enter the parliament in 2002 elections as a result of inadequate votes but won 14.3 percent of votes and 72 parliamentary seats in the 2007 elections.

Source: Xinhua
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