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Turkey's ruling party suffers setback in national election
Monday June 8, 2015 10:38 PM, IANS

In the general elections on Sunday, Turkish voters elected to punish the ruling party, depriving it the required seats in parliament to form a single-party government, according to the early results.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to maintain strong public support in what was described as the most critical election for Turkey although it is still the leading party.

The AKP led the polls with 41.14 percent of votes across Turkey, down from almost 50 percent in the last parliamentary election held in 2011, Xinhua reported citing the preliminary results.

According to an unofficial count of 94 percent of the votes, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's ruling AKP is seen as winning some 261 seats in parliament, down from 326 it won in the previous elections. Now, it has 311 seats in parliament.

The AKP needs at least 276 seats to form a single-party government. That means the coalition government is likely or a minority government that will take the nation to an early election in a short period of time.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the main contender of the ruling party, trailed with 25.25 percent.

The CHP is set to secure some 130 seats in the 550-member parliament. It secured 135 seats in the 2011 elections, where it won 25.98 percent of the vote. Now, it has 125 seats in parliament.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) exceeded the 10 percent national threshold to enter parliament, robbing the ruling AKP enough seats to establish the government alone or make amendment on the constitution.

It received 12.25 percent of the votes that will give the party close to 80 seats.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) secured close to 94 seats and 16.59 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial count.

The MHP also witnessed an increase in the number of seats it controls in parliament -- from 53 in the 2011 elections and 13.01 percent. Now, it has 52 seats in the parliament.

The exact distribution of seats will be determined when the votes from abroad added to the final tally.

No independent candidate was able to get elected.

The vote, although held to determine members of parliament, has been widely seen as a referendum on the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who wanted the country moved from parliamentary system to the executive presidency.

CHP lawmaker Mahmut Tanal said the legitimacy of Erdogan's presidency should be questioned according to this results because he was the one who campaigned on behalf of the ruling party albeit illegally.

The ruling party suffered from battling a high-level corruption investigation involving senior government officials that were exposed in December 2013.

The growing economic woes such as rising unemployment, inflation, slow growth, soaring credit debt by consumers have dealt a blow to the popularity of the ruling party.

There has been a decline in the number of support for the ruling AKP across the country, most in predominantly the Kurdish region in the southeast.

Overall, the AKP dominated most Anatolian provinces while the CHP was again winning in its traditional stronghold of western, coastal provinces and the MHP peeled some support away from the AKP in central provinces.

Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. with 54 million citizens eligible to vote. The voter turnout was more than 85 percent.

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