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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

AKP In Turkey Fell Short Of Majority To Reform The Constitution

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to seek compromise with the opposition after his party won a thumping election victory but fell short of the majority needed to overhaul the constitution.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 49.9 percent of the vote in Sunday's polls, according to unofficial results, its best electoral performance yet and the first time any party has won a third straight term in power while improving its support.
But the AKP, in power since 2002, fell just four seats short of the 330-seat majority it was seeking in the 550-member parliament to press ahead with a major constitutional overhaul without the support of other parties.
"The people have given us a message that the new constitution should be made through compromise, consultation and negotiation," Erdogan said in a victory speech from the balcony of the AKP headquarters late Sunday.
"We will not close our doors and (instead) go to the opposition," he said.
A new liberal constitution for EU-hopeful Turkey to replace its current one, the legacy of a 1980 military coup, was a pivotal AKP election pledge, even though Erdogan has refused to specify what the reform would entail.
The main opposition centre-left Republican People's Party came second with 25.9 percent of the vote and 135 parliamentary seats, followed by the Nationalist Action Party, which clinched 13 percent and 53 seats.
Along with the AKP, the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was another big winner: its candidates, running as independents to get round a 10 percent national threshold for parties, increased the party's seats from 20 to 36.
BDP support could be crucial in drafting the new constitution, which the party says should recognise the Kurds as a distinct element of the nation and grant them autonomy. "The bridge the AKP would have to build with the BDP will lay the ground for the debate" about how the 26-year Kurdish conflict in southeast Turkey will be resolved, the Milliyet newspaper wrote.
The issue has loomed large for Erdogan: jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has threatened that "all hell will break loose" after the polls unless sporadic contacts officials have had with him in prison are upgraded to serious negotiations.

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