Turkish voters gave an early lead to a party with Islamic roots Sunday in elections that were expected to completely reshape parliament in this country.
Early results showed Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's Democratic Left Party faring so poorly that the premier was unlikely to retain his seat in parliament if the voting trend continued. With about 35.6 percent of votes counted, the Justice and Development Party had 36 percent of the vote, the Anatolia news agency reported. The party has its origins in Turkey's pro-Islamic movement, but says it is not pushing an Islamic agenda.
Its rival Republican People's Party had 19 percent of the vote and coming in second, Anatolia added. No other party had more than 10 percent, the threshold for taking seats in parliament.
The NTV news channel reported nearly identical results with about half of the votes counted. That raised the possibility of the Justice party holding a parliamentary majority, able to form a government without coalition partners. "The preliminary results show that we are ahead by a great margin," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the Justice party said in a news conference.
He pledged that his party would keep working with the International Monetary Fund, which has loaned Turkey some US$16 billion to help its economy recover from a deep recession. "Turkey's bid to join the European Union is our priority," Erdogan said in televised remarks. (Albawaba.com)
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