|Tayyip Erdogan's Party Leading in Turkey's Parliamentary Election|
ISTANBUL — Turkey's ruling party led by a wide margin in nearly complete returns from parliamentary elections on Sunday, state-run television reported, setting the stage for a third term in which the government is expected to seek an overhaul of the military-era constitution.
However, results indicated that the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not heading for a two-thirds majority in parliament, a shortcoming that would force it to seek support for constitutional change from other political groups.
With 97 percent of votes counted, Erdogan's party had won 50 percent of the votes, TRT reported. It said the Republican People's Party, the main opposition group, had 26 percent of the vote.
TRT said another opposition party, the Nationalist Action Party, had 13 percent of the vote, signaling it could stay in parliament by crossing a 10 percent vote threshold designed to keep out smaller parties.
According to the tally, the ruling party stood to win 327 seats in the 550-seat parliament, a comfortable majority that would ensure the continuation of its single-party rule. It had 331 seats in the outgoing parliament. Lawmakers serve four-year terms.
Several thousand supporters gathered Sunday night outside the ruling party headquarters in Ankara, chanting pro-government slogans and waving Turkish flags as they awaited Erdogan, who has made it a tradition to deliver a victory speech from the building's balcony.
About 50 million Turks, or two-thirds of the population, were eligible to vote.