Turkish Elections

Compiled by Lensay Abadula Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; 4:52 PM

UPDATE: The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won about 46.3 percent of the vote July 22 in an election that had a voter turnout of about 80 percent. AKP earned a substantial majority of parliament receiving about 340 out of 550 seats. The party said July 23 that it would seek a compromise on electing Turkey's next president. Post Coverage: In Turkish Vote, Ruling Party Wins by Wide Margin

President: Ahmet Necdet Sezer

Prime Minister: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Population: 74 million

More Background: Turkey Country Guide

Turkey's Government

Turkey is a parliamentary democracy. The president is elected to a seven-year term by a unicameral national assembly. The president has legislative veto power and is the chief of the armed forces. The prime minister is chosen by the president.

July 22 Elections

National elections were originally scheduled for Nov. 4, 2007, but faced with a presidential election crisis, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called early elections for July 22.

Electoral Controversy

Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Ahmet Necdet Sezer, outgoing president(Fatih Saribas)
In May, parliament was set to replace secular President Ahmet Necdet Sezer with foreign minister Abdullah Gul, the nominee of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Opposition members boycotted that first-round vote, blocking Gul's nomination. Gul later withdrew his name as presidential candidate, but he is expected to stand for office again.

Gul's nomination sparked protest from the military and elite, who fear the Islamist-rooted AKP party would dismantle Turkey's secular government. Meanwhile, the AKP-led parliament approved a constitutional amendment calling for direct popular elections. President Sezer and the opposition Republican People's Party appealed to the Supreme Court to repeal the amendment, but the court denied the petition in a July 5 ruling. A referendum on the popular election amendment is scheduled for Oct. 21

Major Parties

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The center-right political group, which gained its majority during the 2002 elections, is heading into July elections with 351 of the 550 seats in parliament.

The Republican People's Party (CHP), Turkey's main secular opposition party, draws its support from the elite. On May 17, CHP and another secular opposition party, Democratic Left Party (DSP), formed an electoral alliance to challenge the dominant AKP.

AKP is expected to win with a substantial majority; a poll conducted in early June by a private research group predicted the party would win 41.9 percent of the vote, according to the Turkish Daily News. The opposition alliance of the CHP and DSP was predicted to gain 15 percent and another opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was predicted to earn 12 percent of the vote. AKP draws support from Turkey's rural population but is growing a stronger base in Turkey's expanding middle class, while secular opposition comes mainly from Turkey's elite.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company