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Turkey facing turbulence after Erdogan poll blow

Istanbul: Turkey today entered a new period of political and financial turbulence after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party lost its absolute majority in parliament for the first time since coming to power in 2002.

The uncertainty swiftly rattled financial markets with the stock market tumbling in morning trade and the Turkish lira plummeting in value against the dollar.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has dominated Turkish politics for the last 13 years but came well short of a majority in seats in Sunday’s legislative elections due to a breakthrough showing by the the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

A coalition, a minority government and early elections are all now possibilities, in a situation unprecedented since the Islamic-rooted AKP swept to power.

“A new era,” said the headline in the Milliyet daily. “The collapse,” added the strongly anti-Erdogan Sozcu. “Voters showed Tayyip the red card.”

The pro-government Yeni Safak said early elections were “on the horizon”, with “weak” possibilities of a coalition.

Official results based on 99.99 percent of votes counted put the AKP on 41 percent, 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 86.5 percent.

The result marked a major drop in support for the AKP  — which in the last polls in 2011 won almost 50 percent of the vote — against the background of a weakening economy.

According to official projections, the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, and the MHP and HDP 80 apiece.

The results wrecked the ambition of Erdogan — prime minister from 2003 to 2014 and now president — of agreeing a new constitution to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

Such a change would have required a two-thirds majority in parliament. Just months before the election, Erdogan had been targeting 400 seats for the AKP.

Erdogan has yet to react to the vote and his official schedule today showed no planned public appearance.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, himself under immense pressure after the results, summoned his cabinet to a meeting in Ankara.

Arriving at the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus played down the chance of early elections, saying it was the “most distant possibility”.

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