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article imageTurkey’s Islamic Party AKP Wins Third Term In General Elections

By Steffan Ileman     Jun 13, 2011 in World
Prime Minister Erdogan keeps power with stronger mandate but fewer seats. He vows to rewrite the constitution. Kurdish separatists elect 36 members to parliament.
Turkish PM Erdogan rode to his third election victory yesterday with a 326-seat majority mandate for his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Although he failed to capture the 360 seats required to amend the constitution unilaterally, he vowed to rewrite the constitution. He’d made some constitutional amendments during his second term by a national referendum. The current constitution was drafted under the auspices of the military after the 1980 coup.
Mr. Erdogan's 50-percent voter support exceeds the party's Islamist grassroots estimated at 27-percent of voters, reflecting the success of his economic growth and stability platform that has attracted support from all segments of the political spectrum. According to a recently released IMF report Turkey's GDP in 2016 will equal the total GDP of all of its neighbours combined. IMF estimates that Turkey's economic growth from 2011 to 2016 will be 45.3 percent.
In his acceptance speech Erdogan said this is a victory not only for all Turks within and without Turkey, but also for Damascus, Nablus and Jerusalem, among others. Mr. Erdogan sees himself as an historic arbiter, and defender of the underdog, in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Arab democracy movement. He recently offered full political asylum and protection to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and urged him to resign while he can.
In an apparent reference to the victims of military coups he said this victory has vindicated the souls of those who lost their lives for freedom. There are calls from both the left and the right to put former members of the 1980 junta on trial. The government has opened to the public the gallows where several people were hanged on terrorism charges under military regimes.
Two weeks ago retired general Kenan Evren, leader of the 1980 junta, was questioned by a special prosecutor who asked him why he had overthrown the government. The general said it was necessary for the country’s security, and he had statutory authority to do what he did. An estimated 25,000 people, including bystanders, had been killed in urban warfare between rightist and leftist militias prior to the army takeover. The junta incarcerated all members of parliament in a concentration camp for one year, banned them from political office for ten years, but returned the country to elections and civilian rule within two years of the coup. The current constitution protects members of the junta from prosecution.
Over a hundred retired and incumbent army officers, including high-ranking generals, are currently in detention on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the AKP government. No one has yet been convicted of the alleged conspiracies known as “Ergenekon” and “Sledgehammer.”
Led by a formerly obscure bureaucrat, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the secularist Republican People’s Party failed to inspire the electorate with his leftist social justice rhetoric. Although the party gained 3.5 million votes over the 2007 elections, its 135 seats and 26-percent of the vote are not enough to make a dent in AKP’s armour. The other secularist party, the ultra-nationalist MHP, lost votes and seats ending up with 53 members in the Parliament. Kurdish separatists elected 36 independent members, 6 of whom are in jail awaiting trial.
78 women were elected to the 550-seat parliament.
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