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Turkey starts local polls
Turkey starts local polls
Turkish voters are set to head to the polls for nationwide local elections seen as an indicator of support for the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP)
Sunday, March 29,2009 12:55

Turkish voters are set to head to the polls for nationwide local elections seen as an indicator of support for the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP).

Public opinion polls indicate the AKP is due to strengthen its power base over the main opposition Nationalist Republican Peoples" party in Sunday"s election.

The polling predictions come despite rising unemployment, a slowing economy and corruption allegations against the party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister.

Local elections in Turkey

The first local elections in which more than one party competed were held in 1930. The CHP received 60 percent of the vote while the Free Republican Party received the other 40 percent. A number of charges were voiced to draw attention to irregularities in the election.

In the 1946 local elections, the CHP received 55 percent of the vote and the Democrat Party (DP) received 45 percent. The latter gained political power after its success in this election. In 1950, when parliamentary and local elections were held at the same time, the DP received 55 percent of the vote whereas the CHP held onto 45 percent. In the general elections of 1954, the DP confirmed its legitimacy and strength, receiving the highest percentage of voter support in Turkish history. After this striking victory, local elections were held in 1955. The DP increased its share of the vote to 70 percent whereas the CHP received only 30 percent. The 1957 general elections were held with the assumption that the DP would once again repeat its success. The DP did perform well in the elections, but it was removed from power during the 1960 military coup.

In the 1963 local elections, the Justice Party (AP), the successor of the DP, received 45 percent of the vote, winning the elections; the CHP received 36 percent. The AP preserved its strength through 1968. In the local elections that year, it increased its share of the vote to 49 percent whereas the CHP dropped to 27 percent. After the military memorandum issued on March 12, 1971, the AP-led government resigned; the first local elections after its withdrawal were held in 1973. The CHP won a landslide victory in these elections; Bülent Ecevit"s CHP received 37 percent of the vote whereas the AP received 32 percent. The outcome of the local elections served as a catalyst for holding parliamentary elections in 1974, when Ecevit won another striking victory. In the local elections held in 1977, the CHP increased its share of the vote to 48 percent; the party won local posts in 42 out of 67 cities. In the aftermath of most local elections held since the 1980 military coup, the parties in power had to call for early parliamentary elections.

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