Erdogan's AKP set to win majority in critical Turkey vote

The party founded by strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had around 51 percent of the vote with more than 80 percent of ballots counted.

AFP| Updated: Nov 02, 2015, 00:28 AM IST

Ankara: Turkey's long-dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP) was poised to win back a clear parliamentary majority on Sunday, according to latest results from one of the country's most critical elections in years.

The party founded by strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had around 51 per cent of the vote with more than 80 percent 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 per cent of the vote and lost its majority for the first time in 13 years.

Turks voted in large numbers, with the country deeply polarised in the face of the renewed Kurdish violence and a wave of bloody jihadist attacks along with mounting concerns about democracy and the faltering economy.

If confirmed, the result would be a significant victory for 61-year-old Erdogan, who is hoping to expand his powers as president and continues to play a dominant role in Turkish politics.

During the election campaign, Erdogan said only he and his loyal Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu could guarantee security, criss-crossing the country with the message: "It's me or chaos."

A report by the Brookings Institution think-tank had warned that whatever the outcome, "the challenges facing Turkey are growing by the day".

It highlighted the problems of the Kurdish crisis, the parlous state of the economy and the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

The political landscape has changed dramatically in Turkey since June, with the country even more divided on ethnic and sectarian lines.

Many Turks are fearful of a return to all-out war with outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels after fresh violence shattered a 2013 truce in July, just a month after a pro-Kurdish party won seats in parliament for the first time and denied Erdogan's AKP a majority.

This time round, the People's Democratic Party (HDP), led by charismatic lawyer Selahattin Demirtas, appeared to lose votes, and it was uncertain if it would break through the 10-percent threshold to stay in parliament.

The vote for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had fallen to around 11 per cent from 16 per cent in June, with commentators suggesting its supporters had shifted to the AKP.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) had about 23 per cent.