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Turkey's AKP emerges with its sixth political victory

ANKARA - Daily News Parliament Bureau | 9/13/2010 12:00:00 AM |

With the 58 percent 'yes' vote his party secured in Sunday's referendum, PM Erdoğan has won his sixth electoral victory in eight years, something unprecedented in Turkey.

With the 58 percent “yes” vote his party secured in Sunday’s referendum, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has won his sixth electoral victory in eight years, an achievement unprecedented in Turkish history.

The latest in this string of successes is being seen as a serious boost to the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, confidence going into general elections in 2011 – and to Erdoğan’s possible presidential candidacy in 2012.

According to AKP deputy leader Hüseyin Çelik, the party’s supporters made up the vast majority – 45 percent – of the “yes” votes in Sunday’s election. The rest, he said, were from a mix of parties: 5 percent from the Saadet (Felicity) Party, 2 percent from the Great Union Party, or BBP, 5 percent from the conservative Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, and 1 percent from unaffiliated voters.

By these calculations, the AKP has seen a 6 percent increase in votes since the 2009 local elections. Efforts by the Fethullah Gülen religious community for a “yes” vote in the referendum are cited as a main factor when considering this increase.

The voters sent a message with the referendum vote, saying that Turkey needs a new constitution that meets contemporary democratic standards, something that is on the AKP’s agenda, Çelik told a group of journalists in Parliament on Monday.

“If re-elected in the 2011 elections, we will prepare a new constitution with contributions from the opposition and from nongovernmental organizations,” Çelik said.

AKP deputy leader Salih Kapusuz also said the referendum showed the strength of the public’s desire for a new and civilian constitution. He said harmonization with European Union laws would be facilitated after the Parliament begins its next session in October.

Responding to questions on the idea of a presidential system for Turkey, Kapusuz said: “It is wrong to say that Turkey will decline if the presidential system is applied. All views should be respected, of course. But there are some countries that successfully carry out the presidential system. The prime minister simply wanted the system to be discussed.”

[HH] A string of AKP victories

Prime Minister Erdoğan came to power during the 2002 elections, with 34 percent of the votes. In the 2004 local elections, his AKP won local power with 41 percent of the votes, a total it raised to 47 percent in the 2007 general elections.

The AKP-led amendment changing the Constitution to allow citizens to elect the president then won 69 percent support.

While the 2009 local elections saw a dip in AKP support, the party stayed in power locally with a 38 percent average of the votes across the country.

The latest victory for Erdoğan came Sunday, when he set a record with his sixth consecutive win since 2002.

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