The centre-right AK Party and two opposition parties in the general assembly approved a law setting the polls for November. 4, 2007, lawmakers said yesterday.
The party has presided over strong economic growth following a 2001 financial crisis and the launch of Turkey's European Union entry talks, but unemployment remains stubbornly high and many Turks have turned against the EU, believing it treats their country unjustly.
Despite its grassroots popularity and bringing stability to the country after years of mismanagement, the AK Party is widely mistrusted by Muslim Turkey's secular establishment because of its roots in a banned Islamist movement.
Tensions between the AK Party and staunchly secular establishment have escalated over the past year, largely because of fears Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will contest the presidency in an election next May.
Many in the powerful armed forces, judiciary and other secular institutions fear a more conservative, religiously minded president will chip away at the secular values of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Opposition parties have tried to pressure the AK Party into holding early general elections, saying the next president -- who has great symbolic but also some constitutional weight in Turkey -- must be elected by a new parliament to give him legitimacy.
The army, backed by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and many university rectors, complain that the AK Party is promoting officials with Islamist views. They also resent the AK Party's efforts to relax curbs on religious vocational schools.
Erdogan and the AK Party deny the accusations.
The AK Party became Turkey's first single-party government in 15 years after a stunning election victory in 2002.
But a poll, commissioned by the party and conducted in September, showed its support falling to 26.2 per cent from nearly 33 percent just two months earlier.
Only one other party, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), would gain enough votes to clear a 10 per cent threshold needed to enter parliament, the poll published this week showed. Support for the CHP stood at 15.5 per cent.
Nearly a third of those canvassed said they were undecided about whom to back in the next general election.
REUTERS DH PM0428