Officials in Turkey began tallying votes in potentially crucial parliamentary elections after polls closed Sunday, and partial results were expected later in the day.
Fifteen parties are competing, as well as more than 200 independent candidates, for 550 seats in Turkey's next Parliament.
Polls suggest there is little doubt that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his electoral powerhouse Justice and Development Party (AKP) will win a third term. They are running against a splintered opposition of secularists, leftists, Kurdish nationalists and Turkish ultranationalists.
Erdogan and the AKP first swept to power in 2002 after the party won 34% of the vote. The victory brought an end to years of weak and crisis-prone coalition governments. The party won a much stronger mandate in 2007 parliamentary elections when it captured 47% of the vote.
Erdogan ran his campaign largely focused on his government's years of economic stability and prosperity. Turkey went from double-digit inflation and a debilitating banking crisis in 2001 to an 8.9% economic growth rateÂ in 2010. A recent Pew poll shows six in 10 Turks surveyed "have a lot or some confidence in Erdogan to do the right thing in world affairs."FULL STORY