Boost for Erdogan as AKP wins critical Turkey vote

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves a voting booth as he prepares to cast his vote at a polling station, in Istanbul, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Turks headed to the polls Sunday for the second time in five months in what is being seen as a crucial general election that will determine whether the ruling party can restore the parliamentary majority it enjoyed for the past 13-years. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)   | Photo Credit: Hussein Malla

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has declared victory for his ruling party after preliminary election results showed it restoring its majority in parliament.

State-run TRT television reports that with more than 97 per cent of the votes counted, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has won just above 49 per cent, which would comfortably restore its ruling majority.

“Today is the day of victory but it is also a day for humility,” Mr. Davutoglu said, addressing supporters in his hometown of Konya, where he voted.

The preliminary results suggest that the ruling party’s gamble to hold new elections has paid off. Supporters at the party’s Ankara and Istanbul headquarters were already waving flags in rapturous celebrations. Crowds outside President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home in Istanbul were shouting “Turkey is proud of you.”

The vote is a rerun of a June election in which AKP surprisingly lost its one-party rule due to a strong showing by a Kurdish party. Most analysts had expected AKP to fall short again, but the preliminary results suggest it picked up millions of votes at the expense of the nationalist MHP and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP. AKP’s vote tally jumped nearly nine percentage points. The secularist CHP was hovering around the same result as in June.

Following the June vote, renewed fighting between Turkey’s security forces and Kurdish rebels left hundreds of people dead and shattered an already-fragile peace process. Two recent massive suicide bombings at pro-Kurdish gatherings that killed some 130 people, apparently carried out by an Islamic State group cell, also increased tensions. Following the vote Sunday, small clashes broke out in Diyarbakir in the Kurdish southeast between protesters and police.

Turkey is a key U.S. ally in the fight against IS and, since it hosts more Syrian refugees than any other nation in the world, a crucial player in efforts to end the war in Syria and resolve Europe’s massive immigration crisis.

Mr. Davutoglu had called on voters to choose stability and give AKP a new majority, while opposition parties had hoped to force him into forming a coalition.

Turnout was about 87 per cent among the 54 million people eligible to vote at more than 175,000 polling stations.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus of the AKP said the preliminary result indicated that voters wanted stability.

“The people wanted calm, they wanted security, they didn’t want their peace disturbed,” Mr. Kurtulmus said.

Mr. Erdogan was not on the ballot, but the election will determine if he can continue to be Turkey’s primary political power by guiding the ruling party in parliament.

Mr. Erdogan had warned of instability if a coalition government is formed.

“We will all have to show respect to the national will,” he said after voting in Istanbul. “Turkey has made great strides in democracy and this stride will be strengthened with today’s election.”

Mr. Erdogan called for a new election after Mr. Davutoglu failed to form a coalition with any of the three opposition parties in parliament after the June vote. Some believe, however, that Erdogan never wanted a coalition government anyway and goaded Davutoglu into trying to win back a majority in a new election.

In June, HDP, for the first time cleared a 10 percent threshold needed for representation as a party in parliament, taking seats mostly at the ruling party’s expense. But tensions with Turkey’s large Kurdish minority have escalated as the deaths of Kurdish rebels fighting the government have mounted. Preliminary results showed HDP hovering just above 10 per cent.

“Unfortunately, it was a difficult and troubled period of election campaigning. Lives were lost,” said Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the HDP, after he voted Sunday. “My wish is that a great hope for peace and calm emerges (from the vote).”

The HDP favors the resumption of peace efforts to end the Kurdish conflict. Mr. Erdogan has lashed out at the party, calling it the political arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Turkey and most Western countries consider a terrorist organization.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 3:11:47 AM |

Next Story