Erdogan to get 2nd chance?

ANKARA – Turkey’s election board yesterday canceled election results in an eastern Turkish province, saying a ballot box there had been tampered with – a decision that could open the way for Turkey’s most popular politician to become prime minister. Turkey’s election board ordered new voting in Siirt province based on a petition by the election-winning Justice and Development Party (AK). Yesterday’s decision raised hopes that Justice leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was banned from running in November 3 elections because of a previous conviction for inciting religious hatred, could run for Parliament in the province and become prime minister. The party, which swept elections and has a majority in Parliament, has signaled that it would try and change the laws that kept Erdogan from running for political office. If those laws were changed, Erdogan could run for the seat in Siirt in by-elections, which are expected in February. The Justice party had complained that a ballot box in Siirt had been broken into and that a polling station in the province had not been properly supervised. «Erdogan could be running in the upcoming elections,» AK Secretary-General Naim Sahin said. Siirt has three seats in Parliament and all would be contested in the by-election. Justice holds 363 seats in Parliament and the elections would have no impact on the balance of power. Abdullah Gul is serving as premier in lieu of Erdogan. Only one other party, the center-left Republican People’s Party, managed to get more than the 10 percent of votes required to hold seats in Parliament. The Republicans won 178 seats, while nine other seats went to independents. Siirt’s three seats were equally divided among the Justice party, the Republicans, and an independent. The independent, Fadil Akgunduz, ran his campaign from abroad because he is wanted in Turkey on charges of money laundering and fraud. He now has parliamentary immunity.

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