Turkey's ruling AKP wins third election victory

13:37, June 14, 2011      

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Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a third straight term in office in Sunday's elections,riding a wave of popular support stemming from political stability and continued economic growth in the country, media and analysts say.

With 99.6 percent of the vote counted, the AKP garnered 49.9 percent of support, with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the second largest opposition party Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) trailing far behind, with 25.9 percent and 13.1 percent respectively, Turkish channel NTV reported.

The AKP could collect 326 seats in the 550-member parliament, a tally that falls slightly short of the number required for a re-writing of Turkey's constitution, which the ruling party pursued as an election pledge.

But the AKP just needs support from only a few opposition deputies to amend the charter.

Some voters interviewed by Xinhua in Istanbul said they voted for the AKP because they were satisfied with its performance in the past nine years.

Founded in 2001 by former members of several parties including the banned Islamist Virtue Party, the AKP came to power in 2002, when Turkey was still reeling from two economic crises that had pushed the country to the verge of economic collapse.

Under the AKP rule, Turkey has become the world's 16th largest economy and rebounded from the global recession last year with an 8.9 percent growth.

Reflecting on the economic development since his ruling AKP came to power in 2002, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said prior to the vote that the number of automobiles sold in Turkey more than quintupled to 510,000 in 2010 from 91,000 in 2002 while the tourism revenues rose by 147 percent to 21 billion U.S. dollars.

In the first four months of this year, 177,000 automobiles were sold, up 70 percent year-on-year.

Turkey's debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has dropped to 5 billion dollars from 23.5 billion dollars in 2002, said Erdogan, adding that Turkey would pay off its debt to the IMF by April 2013.

The AKP has also succeeded in opening EU accession talks in 2005, which has helped boost economic, social and political reforms and attract foreign investments to the country. Meanwhile, reforms diminishing the Turkish army's role in the country's political life have brought political stability.

In foreign policy, Erdogan's harsh criticism toward Israel has increased his popularity not only among Turks, but also in the Arab world.

The opposition accuses the AKP of shifting capital to the pro- government circles and widening the wealth gap. They also worry about the AKP's growing intolerance of criticism, citing the increasing numbers of journalists detained under the AKP rule.

But the government says the journalists have been arrested on criminal charges, not for their writings.

Source: Xinhua
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