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Ruling party optimistic in Turkey's election

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures during a meeting of his ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), to present the candidates for the June 12 general elections in Ankara on April 18, 2011.

Tess Vigeland: Turkey holds elections this Sunday, and the party that's run the country for the past decade is widely expected to win another term. The AKP party is Islamic-leaning, and it's popular in large part because of what it's done for the economy.

Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports from Istanbul.


Alisa Roth: For years, Istanbul taxi driver Lokman Mutlu voted for right-wing parties. But this time, the AKP is getting his vote. He says the party's helped him get health insurance for his two kids, and given them free schoolbooks. And when Turkey does well, he says his business does, too.

That's exactly what the AKP wants people to say. The party's election ads and other campaign materials all point up the economic improvements the government has made since it was first elected in 2002: better health care, better infrastructure, better control of inflation. And it promises even more progress if it gets re-elected.

Ali Carkoglu is a political scientist at Koc University in Istanbul. He says you can see the effects the economic improvements are having on regular Turks.

Ali Carkoglu: This actually improves the lifestyle of the people on the street quite significantly. I mean, Turks are not used to this kind of consumption, but I think we're enjoying it.

Even so, after almost 10 years of rapid economic growth, some are afraid Turkey is due for a crash. They wonder whether the AKP can maintain its zeal for modernizing the country, economically and socially.

If the country is going to keep attracting the outside investment that's been so crucial to its prosperity, the party will need to continue with those liberalizing policies.

In Istanbul, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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