Turkish PM rules out early election

Turkey, October 31: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has ruled out holding a general election before its scheduled date in 2011, dismissing media reports this week that he might bring the vote forward by one year.

Double-digit unemployment in Turkey’s deepest economic contraction on record has led the government to boost spending by about 10 percent this year, and analysts have said Erdogan could call a snap election if the economy begins to grow swiftly next year.

“From now on, elections will be held on the announced date. They may be pulled forward by one or two months, that’s different,” Mr Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, according to the state-run Anatolian news agency.

Mr Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted AK Party swept to power in 2002, becoming the first single-party government in more than a decade. It was re-elected in 2007 by the biggest margin of votes in 40 years.

In recent months the AK Party has faced hostility from opposition parties over its plans to expand Kurdish minority rights to help end a 25-year war with Kurdish separatists.

It has also been criticised for agreeing to open diplomatic relations with its arch rival and neighbour Armenia, plans to draft a more liberal constitution and for other European Union-inspired measures the government hopes will bring it closer to membership of the bloc.