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21 Jul, 2007 02:07

Turks begin early voting in parliamentary elections

A day ahead of parliamentary elections in Turkey, some citizens are getting the chance to vote early. Polling stations have been set up at major airports, harbours and land borders to allow overseas citizens to cast a vote.

The early elections became necessary after a clash between the ruling Islamist AK Party with the country's powerful secular elite.

Campaigning is heating its peak just before Turkey goes to the polls in a parliamentary election that is being called predictable yet crucial. Known as the AK party, they are confident as ever. Recently PM Tayyip Erdogan said he would drop out of politics if his ruling party did not come in first.

“It is the show of self-confidence. He [Tayyip Erdogan ] knows he is going to win and do better than the last time. He is challenging the opposition leaders to have the same attitude – to see if they will have the courage to say that they will resign if they don't become number one party and no other leader will match his challenge,” believes Egemen Bagis, Advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

If AK gets 367 seats, their candidate for president will be appointed – a Muslim candidate that forced up to a million people to come to the streets in May for fear that the country will go down the road to radical Islam.

But pro-western AK says they their support comes from providing stability and economic growth.

“Our party has made Turkey more modern, more democratic, more prosperous and more contemporary and more Western. So all these fears are groundless, ” says Egemen Bagis.

The two largest opposition parties- former enemies MHP the nationalist and CHP the socialist – are now working together to try and push AK out.

“We are aiming to come first as the largest party. We are expecting an overwhelming majority,” assures Murat Sefkatli from the MHP-nationalist party.

If together they gain enough seats on Sunday, AK will have too few for the prime minister's nominee to be appointed. The country will then hold a national referendum. It would be a historic vote as the public has never directly elected a president.