Turkey approves early elections for July 22

Turkey's Parliament has approved July 22 as the date for early general elections, which were called to resolve a government crisis over sharply rising tension between the pro-secular military and the Islamic-rooted government. Parliament on Thursday approved the date unanimously - with all 458 votes cast in favor - despite initial objections from the secular opposition, which argued the elections would be held at a time when many vacationing Turks would be away and unable to vote. Parliament on Thursday held a first-round of voting on a constitutional amendment that would lower the minimum age for election to Parliament to 25, from 30, and a measure which would make it harder for a pro-Kurdish party to field independent candidates in elections. The second and final round of voting will be held on Sunday. Currently, a party needs 10 percent of the vote to win seats in Parliament. The Kurdish group, the Democratic Society Party, had planned to circumvent that rule by making its candidates stand as independents, who would then form a party with their individual seats once they got into Parliament.