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Turkish Party Rooted in Political Islam Wins Landslide Election Victory


A new, untested party rooted in political Islam has won a landslide victory in Turkey's general elections and has garnered enough seats in parliament to form a majority. The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is already laying plans to form a new government.

The AKP's executive board is to meet Tuesday to discuss who it will put forward for prime minister. The move is necessitated by party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan having been banned from holding office because of a 1998 conviction for inciting religious hatred.

The AKP denies it is Islamist and calls itself a modern conservative party. Mr. Erdogan has sought to reassure the worried political, military and business establishments that his party will uphold the country's secular constitution.

With all the ballots counted, the AKP is shown as having polled 34 percent of the vote, enough to guarantee it at least 360 out of parliament's 550 seats. The strongly secularist Republican Peoples' Party was the only other group to qualify for seats in the legislature, obtaining 19 percent. The other 16 parties in the contest failed to garner the necessary 10 percent of the vote to enter parliament.

With Turkey reeling from a severe recession, voters apparently turned to the AKP to punish Turkey's traditional political parties, for what they perceived as economic mismanagement and corruption.

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