- Title: TURKEY: Turkish parliament brings forward election to July 22 in unanimous vote
- Date: 3rd May 2007
- Summary: (W3)ANKARA, TURKEY (MAY 3, 2007) (REUTERS) SOUNDBITE (Turkish) AK PARTY GROUP VICE-CHAIRMAN EGEMEN BAGIS SAYING: "We never lost our connections with the nation. And I am sure that the necessary messages will be given at the polling stations."
- Embargoed: 18th May 2007 13:00
- Location: Turkey
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA633M7NAEE5HXBA8KCUENMQ1R8
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: The Turkish parliament brings forward national elections to July 22 to try to end a standoff between secularists and Islamists over the Islamic-rooted government's choice of candidate for president. Turkey's parliament voted unanimously on Thursday (May 3) to bring forward the date of the country's next election by four months, to July
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan proposed elections be held early after Turkey's highest court on Tuesday (May 1) upheld an appeal from the secularist opposition and ruled invalid the first round of a presidential election in parliament.
Turkey's secularist establishment, which includes the powerful milItary and top judges as well as opposition parties, wants to prevent the Islamic-rooted AK Party's presidential candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, becoming head of state.
Secularists fear Gul and Erdogan, both former Islamists, aim to chip away at Turkey's separation of politics and religion, a claim which the two politicians deny.
The AK Party is widely expected to win the election. It has presided over strong economic growth and the launch of historic European Union membership talks since sweeping to power in 2002 following a deep financial crisis.
AK party group vice-chairman Egemen Bagis expressed confidence that the AK would win the general election: "We never lost our connections with the nation. And I am sure that the necessary messages will be given at the polling stations."
Sinan Yerlikaya of the main opposition party, the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) said he hoped the decision to bring forward the general election would prove to be "good for the Turkish nation".
A new round of the presidential election will take place in parliament on Sunday (May 6).
Under the constitution, outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a staunch secularist and former head of the Constitutional Court, stays on as interim head of state until a new parliament can elect his successor.
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