Turkey's AKP triumphant in elections

  • 02/11/2015
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)

Turkey's long-dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reclaimed its majority in parliamentary elections in a surprise result that ensures a single-party government.

The party founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 49.4 percent of the vote to secure 316 seats in the 550-member parliament with nearly all votes counted, easily enough to form a government on its own.

The result is a huge personal victory for 61-year-old Erdogan, Turkey's divisive strongman who may now be able to secure enough support for his controversial ambitions to expand his role into a powerful US-style executive presidency.

"Our people clearly showed in the November 1 elections that they prefer action and development to controversy," he said in a statement giving his first reaction to the election result, adding that voters had backed "unity and integrity".

The outcome of the vote was a shock to many, as opinion polls had predicted a replay of the June election when the AKP won only 40 percent and lost its majority for the first time in 13 years.

Then, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) won seats in Turkey's parliament for the first time, denying Erdogan's party a majority, but renewed violence with Kurdish militants and a surge in bloody jihadist attacks have boosted support for the government.

"Today is a day of victory," a beaming Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a crowd of jubilant supporters in his hometown, insisting that "today there are no losers but winners".

Speaking later to thousands of people who waited for hours in the cold to hear him speak from the balcony of the AKP headquarters in the capital, he vowed to protect the human rights of all of Turkey's 78 million inhabitants.

"You saw the dirty games played in our country, and you have changed the game," Davutoglu said.

Analysts said it appeared voters had turned away from nationalist and Kurdish parties, after the collapse of a truce with outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in July prompted a surge in violence.

Erdogan said the result "delivered an important message for the PKK: oppression and bloodshed cannot coexist with democracy".

Support has also fallen for the HDP, which some critics accuse of being a front for the rebels, who only just managed to scrape past the electoral threshold of 10 percent to stay in parliament on Sunday (local time).

Underscoring one of the key challenges ahead for a new AKP administration – the state of the Kurdish peace process – clashes erupted briefly between police and protesters in the main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

During the election campaign, Erdogan declared that only he and Davutoglu could guarantee security, criss-crossing the country with the message: "It's me or chaos."

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) scored about 25.4 percent of the vote, similar to its June result.

Support for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) fell to 11 percent, from 16 percent, with commentators suggesting its voters shifted to the AKP.

The MHP had rejected entering into a coalition with AKP after the last vote and was nicknamed as the party of "no" by some voters, apparently leading it to be punished in Sunday's voting.