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Erdogan's Party Sweeps Back to Power in Turkey With Surprise Win

Erdogan's Party Sweeps Back to Power in Turkey With Surprise Win
People wave flags outside the ruling AK Party headquarters on Nov. 1, 2015, in Ankara, Turkey. (Getty Images)

Sunday, 01 November 2015 05:30 PM

Turkey's AK Party swept back into office in parliamentary elections, strengthening President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 13-year grip on power after a divisive campaign scarred by violence.

The Islamist-rooted party that Erdogan founded took at least 49 percent of the vote, according to local media reports with more than 95 percent of ballots counted. Official news agency Anadolu said it's guaranteed to regain the parliamentary majority it lost in elections five months ago.

The result would be a triumph for a leader whose dominance in the Middle East's biggest economy has polarized Turks and antagonized many allies. Since the inconclusive June vote, Turkey has resumed its war with Kurdish separatists and suffered a wave of Islamic State attacks. The violence alarmed investors, yet it appears to have persuaded voters to seek stability in a return to single-party government.

"Erdogan's emphasis on security and instability is paying off. And it goes to show how unreliable the pre-election polls are," Anthony Skinner, a director with U.K.-based forecasting company Verisk Maplecroft. "So more polarization, confrontation and no end in sight to intervention by the president."

Presidential Power

The AK Party is set to win a bigger share of the vote than any of the main local polls had foreseen. It increased its votes by 4 million to more than 23 million, according to Anadolu, and came close to replicating the landslide it won in 2011.

While Erdogan wasn't up for re-election, he's now better placed to rule the country as president, an office whose powers he's sought to increase. Opposition parties campaigned against that plan, and also accuse Erdogan and his successor as premier and AK Party leader, Ahmet Davutoglu, of ratcheting up tensions with Kurdish militants in a bid to regain the lost majority.

The political turmoil in Turkey, spillover of violence from neighboring Syria and signs of a slowdown in the $720 billion economy have helped make the lira the world's second-weakest major currency this year. The currency has rallied in recent weeks, though, along with bonds and the lira on growing expectations that Sunday's vote would end the stalemate.

"Markets will likely appreciate a strong stable government," Timothy Ash, a credit strategist at Nomura International Plc in London, said in an e-mailed note. "There will be concern over the lack of checks and balances over the next Erdogan administration -- inevitably, he will dominate the next government, even without formal executive powers. There will also be concern how the opposition will take this vote."

Kurdish Clashes

The secular Republican People's Party performed about the same as in the June election, according to the early count. The other two parties in parliament, the nationalist MHP and the Kurdish HDP, were both projected to lose seats.

The Kurds have been subjected to a near-blackout in local media and their ties to armed separatists have been repeatedly highlighted in the AK Party campaign. The party, which won a breakthrough in June with 13 percent of the vote, said the reported results didn't match its own count.

Erdogan has backed constitutional changes that would make him an executive president, though the AK Party probably won't win enough seats to formalize such plans. But critics say he's already adopting that role by stealth, breaking with convention by chairing cabinet meetings in place of the prime minister and continuing to exert control over the party he founded.

Erdogan and Davutoglu have backed rebels battling to oust President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and clashed with the U.S. and European Union by refusing to support Kurdish fighters taking on Islamic State. At home, their party has presided over economic growth averaging about 5 percent, though the pace has slowed in recent years.


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Turkey's AK Party swept back into office in parliamentary elections, strengthening President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 13-year grip on power after a divisive campaign scarred by violence.The Islamist-rooted party that Erdogan founded took at least 49 percent of the vote,...
erdogan, turkey akp, election
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2015-30-01
Sunday, 01 November 2015 05:30 PM
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