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Turkey-Elect Wins By Fewer Votes than 2 Years Ago

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Justice and Development Party, narrowly won Turkey's elections on Sunday, the New York Times reported.

The CNN-Turk news channel reported by late evening that Erdogan’s party led with 39.13 percent of the vote, while the Republican People’s Party, had 22.83 percent and the nationalist People’s Action Party had 16.22 percent.

The party appears to have won most of the mayoral and district administrator posts up for grabs, giving it a renewed mandate to push for constitutional reforms, the Associated Press reported.

The New York Times reported that Erdogan is a former Islamist who pushed for Turkey's membership with the European Union early in his election bid. In recent years, Erdogan stoped pushing as hard, and has been opposing billionaire publisher Aydin Dogan and also prosecutors planning to overthow him.

His party was winning by much narrower margins than in 2007, where it took 47 percent of the vote. Many attributed the decline to the economic downturn, allegations of widespread corruption among members and many Turks voting for its candidates because of political tensions.

“Today’s political atmosphere is much calmer,” law professor Mithat Sancar of Ankara university said. The narrower margins in this year's election “show that the political scene in Turkey is becoming real and normalized,” he said.

Justice and Development appeared to have lost key cities like Izmir, Adana and Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast, which Erdogan even claimed hard to take.

Diyarbakir has traditionally voted for candidates from Turkey’s Kurdish party, the Democratic Society Party.

The Senior Electoral Board eventually banned the Justice and Development Party's attempt to distribute free household goods like refrigerators and washing machines, which opposition criticized as bribery.