2002 Turkish general election

General elections were held in Turkey on 3 November 2002 following the collapse of the Democratic Left PartyNationalist Movement PartyMotherland Party coalition led by Bülent Ecevit. All 550 members of the Grand National Assembly were up for election.

2002 Turkish general election

← 1999 3 November 2002 2007 →

All 550 seats in the Grand National Assembly
276 seats needed for a majority
Turnout79.14% (Decrease7.95pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Deniz Baykal
Party AK Party CHP
Last election 8.71%, 0 seats
Seats won 363 178
Seat change New Increase 178
Popular vote 10,808,229 6,113,352
Percentage 34.28% 19.39%
Swing New Increase10.68pp

Prime Minister before election

Bülent Ecevit

Elected Prime Minister

Abdullah Gül
AK Party

The elections were held during an ongoing economic crisis that followed the 2001 financial crash, which resulted in a deep resentment of coalition governments which had governed the country since the 1980 military coup. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Republican People's Party (CHP) between them made massive gains, winning 98.36% of the seats between them. As a result, Turkey moved from the multi-party parliament under a coalition government formed after the 1999 elections to a two-party parliament ruled by an AKP government. No other party won any seats and only nine independents were elected to the parliament.

The AKP, which had only been formed in August 2001 by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, won the election, securing nearly two-thirds of the seats (363 seats won with 34% of the vote). The only other party to pass the 10% threshold to gain representation in parliament was the CHP, which came second (178 seats secured from 19.38% of the vote). The election produced Turkey's first single party government since 1987 and the country's first two-party parliament since 1961.

The moderate Islamism advocated by the AKP was at odds with the secular establishment of the Republic of Turkey. While serving as the Mayor of Istanbul, Erdoğan had been sentenced to a 10-month prison term in 1998 for reciting a poem in Siirt for which he was accused of inciting racial intolerance. This initially barred him from seeking a seat in parliament, meaning that the AKP's co-founder Abdullah Gül became the first AKP Prime Minister following their election victory. With the help of the CHP, the government overturned Erdoğan's political ban in 2003, after which he was able to seek a seat in a controversial by-election in the Province of Siirt. Erdoğan became Prime Minister in March 2003, with Abdullah Gül assuming the roles of Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.



The 1999 İzmit earthquake and 1999 Düzce earthquake caused the deaths of over 17,000 people. Following the disaster, the government pledged to implement stricter building regulations and established an "earthquake tax" to enhance readiness in a nation located on two major geological fault lines. Despite these initiatives, the government's slow response to the calamity contributed significantly to the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) to power. The AKP promised to restore transparency and rebuild the economy, which had been devastated by a stock market crash.[1] The political party that oversaw the ministry accountable for earthquake relief, as well as the parties that held power for longer and had more control over city administrations in the earthquake-affected region, received greater blame. The newly established AKP benefitted from the votes lost by the ruling parties.[2]

A few days before the match between Fenerbahçe and Malatyaspor, Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz was a guest on a TV channel with Can Ataklı. During their conversation, Yılmaz made a statement: "By God's permission, we will make Galatasaray the champion this year too." Prior to the Malatyaspor match at Fenerbahçe's closed stands, a huge banner was unfurled, reading "We'll see you at the ballot box, Mr. Mesut."[3]



Martin Schulz of the German Social Democratic Party of Germany endorsed the Republican People's Party before the elections.[4] Schulz said: "As social democrats, our aim and desire is for the CHP to emerge victorious from the elections.''[4]



Voting ended in the country's 32 eastern provinces at 15:00, having begun an hour earlier in morning. In the remaining 49 provinces it ended at 16:00. Counting began immediately afterwards.

The Electoral Authority imposed a press blackout on the results until it could ensure that all ballot boxes were secure, but even when it became clear that every box in the country had been sealed, the authority refused to alter its original deadline of 9pm. With early results already being announced by foreign media outlets, Turkish television switched to a live shot of the Electoral Authority headquarters until the blackout was revoked at 7.30pm .

Justice and Development Party10,808,22934.28363New
Republican People's Party6,113,35219.39178+178
True Path Party3,008,9429.540–85
Nationalist Movement Party2,635,7878.360–129
Young Party2,285,5987.250New
Democratic People's Party1,960,6606.220New
Motherland Party1,618,4655.130–86
Felicity Party785,4892.490New
Democratic Left Party384,0091.220–136
New Turkey Party363,8691.150New
Great Unity Party322,0931.0200
Homeland Party294,9090.940New
Workers' Party159,8430.5100
Independent Turkey Party150,4820.480New
Freedom and Solidarity Party106,0230.3400
Liberal Democratic Party89,3310.2800
Nation Party68,2710.2200
Communist Party of Turkey59,1800.190New
Valid votes31,528,78396.22
Invalid/blank votes1,239,3783.78
Total votes32,768,161100.00
Registered voters/turnout41,407,02779.14
Source: YSK



New government


Although the AKP's sweeping victory was clear, Erdoğan could not be appointed prime minister because of his criminal conviction, which had prevented him from standing for parliament. Instead another prominent party member, Abdullah Gül, became prime minister (Cabinet Gül) and remained in the post until a constitutional amendment allowed Erdoğan to stand for a vacant seat in a March 2003 by-election. The AKP taking power may have contributed to the Turkish economic boom of the 2000s.

Party leader resignations


The result prompted the almost immediate resignations of several prominent Turkish politicians:

Outgoing prime minister Ecevit was widely expected to resign as leader of his DSP but only did so at a party conference in 2004.

See also



  1. ^ McKernan, Bethan (12 February 2023). "Turkey earthquake death toll suggests lessons of 1999 were not learned". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 February 2023.
  2. ^ Akarca, Ali; Tansel, Aysit (23 May 2008). "Impact of the 1999 Earthquakes on the Outcome of the 2002 Parliamentary Election in Turkey". Rochester, NY. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Saatçi, Ercan. "Sandıkta görüşürüz Mesut Bey". www.hurriyet.com.tr (in Turkish). Retrieved 26 February 2023.
  4. ^ a b "SPD'den CHP'ye açık destek". Hürriyet (in Turkish). 11 October 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2023.