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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkish Party Gets Approval

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's new government formed by an Islamic-rooted party easily won a vote of confidence Thursday, paving the way for reforms aimed at winning membership in the European Union and improving the crisis-ridden economy.

The Justice and Development Party, which swept Nov. 3 elections, last week formed Turkey's first majority government in more than a decade.

Prime Minister Abdullah Gul's government won a 346-170 vote Thursday.

"Our duty is to improve the condition of all Turkish people and elevate them to the point they deserve," Gul said in an address to parliament.

The new government promised to maintain an economic reform program, backed by $16 billion in International Monetary Fund loans, and reverse the economic downturn that has left 2 million people jobless. The government also pledged to repair Turkey's battered human rights record, strengthen democracy and wipe out torture -- requirements for Turkey to join the EU.

The Justice Party, which has 363 seats in parliament, won a commanding victory in elections largely because of voter discontent with the economy.

Gul's party, founded last year by members of a pro-Islamic party closed by the courts, denies it has a secret religious agenda, calling itself merely conservative.

The military, the self-appointed guarantor of Turkey's secular principles, has announced that it remains concerned about the rise of the Islamic movement.