Vote started early on Sunday in an election expected to bring a complete overhaul of the Turkish political landscape. The election is being closely watched in the EU, which Turkey hopes to join, and by Washington which may call on Ankara for support in any military attack on Iraq.
Turkey's most popular politician, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, led his front-running party into elections. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has its roots in Islamic-oriented political movements, but he and other leaders contend they have changed and are not promoting a religious agenda. Their campaign focused on widespread anger over Turkey's wrenching recession and corruption, AP reported.
Opinion polls said Erdogan's party is supported by 30 percent of voters. The left-of-center and secular Republican People's Party, which held no seats in the former parliament, was second with 20 percent support.
Speaking at a recent press conference, Prime Minister and Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Bulent Ecevit called Erdogan’s continuing at the AKP’s helm “inappropriate” and suggested that he step down. “Erdogan wants to stay at this post despite a number of legal challenges,” added Ecevit. “This means that he doesn’t want anybody else to lead the AKP.”
According to Milliyet, Turkey’s top state prosecutor has recently filed for the closure of the AKP, citing Erdogan’s defiance of a court order to give up his leading party posts.
Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (0400 GMT) in the east of the country and an hour later in the west. They close nine hours later and early results are expected from mid-evening.
A total of 18 political parties take part in the elections. More than 10,000 deputy candidates compete in the elections. Here is the list of political parties which compete in the elections:
Democratic Left Party, Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), Homeland Party (YP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), True Path Party (DYP), Nation Party (MP), Great Unity Party (BBP), Motherland Party (ANAP), Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), Felicity Party (SP), Great Turkey Party (BTP), Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), Turkey Communist Party (TKP), Youth Party (Genc Party), Labour Party (IP), Republican People's Party (CHP), Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and New Turkey Party (YTP). (Albawaba.com)
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