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Turkey ruling party loses majority in blow for Erdogan

Update: June, 08/2015 - 11:00

ISTANBUL — Turkey's Islamic-rooted ruling party lost its parliamentary majority in Sunday's legislative elections, dealing a severe blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambition to expand his powers.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the biggest portion of the vote in the closely-fought elections, but its 41 per cent share was a sharp drop from the last polls in 2011, when it won nearly half the vote.

Under Turkey's proportional representation system, this means the AKP will need to form a coalition for the first time since coming to power in 2002.

In another sensational result that shakes-up Turkey's political landscape, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) easily surpassed the 10 per cent barrier needed to send MPs to parliament.

Official results based on 99.9 per cent of votes counted put the AKP in the lead, followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) on 25 per cent, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5 per cent and the HDP in fourth place with 13 per cent.

Turnout stood at 86 per cent.

According to official projections, the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, the MHP 81 and the HDP 79.

The results wreck Erdogan's dream of agreeing a new constitution to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system that he had made a fundamental issue in the campaign.

Such a change would have required a two-thirds majority in the parliament.

'Lost all hope'

"The AKP did not lose the elections but Erdogan lost all hope for turning Turkey into a presidential system," university professor Ahmet Insel said.

Speaking from the balcony of AKP headquarters in Ankara – the traditional place for the party's victory speeches – Prime Minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu sought to put a brave face on the results.

"The winner of the election is again the AKP, there's no doubt," he said, pledging to ensure Turkey's stability.

But he added: "Our people's decision is final. It's above everything and we will act in line with it."

The result was, however, a triumph for the HDP, which in the campaign had sought to present itself as a genuinely Turkish party and reach out to voters beyond its mainly Kurdish support base to secular Turks, women and gays.

'Honest opposition'

Demirtas said there would be no coalition with the AKP and instead the HDP would make a "strong and honest opposition".

HDP MPs had sat in the previous parliament but they were elected as independents and not from a party list.

The MHP's leader Devlet Bahceli did not shut the door on a coalition but said the results represented the "beginning of the end for the AKP".

Should the sides fail to form a coalition, new elections could be a real possibility and by law could be called any time 45 days from now. — AFP


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