18-02-2020 09:26 PM Jerusalem Timing

Turkey Ruling Party Loses Majority in Blow for Erdogan

Turkey Ruling Party Loses Majority in Blow for Erdogan

Turkey’s ruling party lost its parliamentary majority in Sunday’s legislative elections, dealing a severe blow to strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambition to expand his powers.

ErdoganTurkey's ruling party lost its parliamentary majority in Sunday's legislative elections, dealing a severe blow to strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambition to expand his powers.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the biggest share of the vote in the closely-fought elections, but lost almost 10 percent on the nearly 50 percent it recorded in the previous 2011 polls.

Under Turkey's proportional representation system, this means the AKP will need to form a coalition for the first time since coming to power in 2002.

In another sensational result that shakes-up Turkey's political landscape, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) easily surpassed the 10-percent barrier needed to send MPs to parliament.

Official results based on 99.9 percent of votes counted gave the AKP 41 percent of Sunday's ballots, followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) on 25 percent, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5 percent and the HDP in fourth place with 13 percent.

Turnout stood at 86 percent.

According to the official projections, the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, the MHP 81 and the HDP 79.

The AKP has dominated Turkish politics since it first came to power in 2002 but has suffered from a dip in economic growth and controversy over Erdogan's perceived authoritarian tendencies.

The results wreck Erdogan's dream of agreeing a new constitution to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system that he had made a fundamental issue in the campaign.

Such a change would have required a two-thirds majority in the parliament.

Erdogan -- premier from 2003-2014 before becoming president -- wanted to be enshrined as Turkey's most powerful figure and strengthen the office of the presidency which was largely ceremonial until his arrival.

Opponents, however, feared it could mark the start of one-man rule, with Erdogan likely to seek another presidential mandate to stay in power until 2024.

Speaking from the balcony of AKP headquarters in Ankara -- the traditional place for the party's victory speeches, Prime Minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu sought to put a brave face on the results.

"The winner of the election is again the AKP, there's no doubt," he said, pledging to ensure Turkey's stability.

But he added: "Our people's decision is final. It's above everything and we will act in line with it."