Erdogan: Turks Voted for Stability, World Must Respect Results

In characteristic form, Turkish president blasts global media after party regains majority in vote Kurdish opposition calls 'unfair'.

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Erdogan waves to his supporters after he casts his vote outside a polling station in Istanbul, November 1, 2015.Credit: AP
The Associated Press

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday the nation had voted for stability in a parliamentary election that saw the AK Party he founded win almost 50 percent of the vote, and said the world should respect the result of the vote, which the pro-Kurdish party called "unfair".

The Islamist-rooted AKP swept to an unexpected landslide victory on Sunday, returning Turkey to single-party rule in an outcome that will boost Erdogan's power but may deepen social divisions.

"The national will manifested itself on Nov. 1 in favor of stability," Erdogan said in comments to reporters after praying at a mosque in Istanbul. "Let's be as one, be brothers and all be Turkey together."

But in characteristically pugnacious form, he also attacked the global media and its criticism of him.

"Is this your understanding of democracy?" he said. "Now a party with some 50 percent in Turkey has attained power... This should be respected by the whole world, but I have not seen such maturity."

People wave flags and hold a portrait of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan after AKP take majority in election. November 2, 2015.Credit: Reuters

The AKP took just shy of 50 percent of the votes on Sunday, initial results showed, comfortably enough to control about 316 of the 550 seats in parliament and a far higher margin of victory than even party insiders had expected.

Erdogan said earlier the outcome was a message to Kurdish insurgents in the restive southeast that violence could not coexist with democracy.

The chairman of the pro-Kurdish HDP party said that "there wasn't a fair or equal election... We were not able to lead an election campaign. We tried to protect our people against attacks."

The HDP was forced to cancel election rallies following two deadly attacks on pro-Kurdish gatherings since July. Television stations gave party representatives little air-time amid government attacks branding the party as the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies.

Following the vote, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struck a conciliatory tone, asking ruling party supporters to remain solemn and to embrace fellow Turks.

A man holds a Turkish flag as he waits for exit polls outside the AK Party headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey November 1, 2015.Credit: Reuters

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

He kept up the placatory manner during a victory address to thousands of AKP supporters gathered outside party headquarters in Ankara, promising to end the party's often divisive rhetoric and asking for the "blessing" of anyone offended by the harsh election campaign.

Davutoglu also pledged to uphold freedoms and called for opposition parties' support for constitutional amendments to make Turkey's laws more democratic. It was not clear if the party had abandoned contentious plans to change Turkey's political system to one that would give the president more powers.

Davutoglu spoke vaguely about pressing ahead with a peace process with the Kurds, but said Turkey was determined to continue to fight Kurdish rebels, who are considered terrorists.

"We won't step back from our determination for a solution or from our determination to fight terrorism," Davutoglu said. 

The vote was 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.

With a dramatic gain that few had predicted, the ruling party's gamble to hold new elections paid off. "It's a massive shift of vote compared to the previous election," said Fadi Hakura, a Turkey analyst at the London-based think tank, Chatham House. "Erdogan's focus on security and stability seems to have attracted Turkish and Kurdish votes."

Security forces have been battling militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the country's predominantly Kurdish southeast in a renewed surge in violence since a ceasefire collapsed in July. 

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