Turkey's ruling party wins election
Turkey's ruling party has won a third term in parliamentary elections.
However, results indicated that the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had not won a two-thirds majority in parliament, a shortcoming that would force it to seek support for constitutional change from other political groups.
With 99% of votes counted, Erdogan's party had won 50% of the votes, according to TRT, the state-run television. It said the Republican People's Party, the main opposition group, had 26% of the vote.
TRT said another opposition party, the Nationalist Action Party, had 13% of the vote, signalling it would stay in parliament by crossing a 10% vote threshold designed to keep out smaller parties.
According to the tally, the ruling party had won 326 seats in the 550-seat parliament, a comfortable majority that would ensure the continuation of its single-party rule. It had 331 seats in the outgoing parliament. Lawmakers serve four-year terms.
Several thousand supporters gathered on Sunday night outside the ruling party headquarters in Ankara, chanting pro-government slogans and waving Turkish flags as Erdogan emerged to deliver a victory speech from the balcony.
The prime minister alluded to the climate of impunity and political chaos that prevailed in past decades in Turkey, which endured several military coups but has made strides in democratic development as part of its bid to join the European Union. "The Turkey that was directed by the gangs is a thing of the past," said Erdogan.
Despite Turkey's achievements during his tenure, Erdogan is viewed with scepticism by the opposition and some commentators who note slowing reforms and hints of an autocratic leadership style.
"We will be humble. We have never displayed pride or boasted," Erdogan said in an apparent attempt to counter the criticism. He pledged to start work on enacting a new constitution.
About 50 million Turks, or two-thirds of the population, were eligible to vote. NTV television said turnout was 84.5 %. Turkey, a Nato ally with a mostly Muslim population, stands out in a region buffeted by popular uprisings as a rising power with traditional Western alliances as well as growing ties in the east and elsewhere. In the past decade, the government has sharply reduced the political clout of the military, and taken some steps to ease restrictions on minorities.