IN what undoubtedly is a stunning comeback, Recep Tayyip Erdogan proved his opponents and many pundits wrong on Sunday when his party carted off almost 50pc of the votes to regain the AKP’s parliamentary majority.
With 316 of the national assembly’s 550 seats in his pocket, Mr Erdogan is now in a commanding position to tackle a slew of nerve-wracking crises that have divided the nation and worried its friends.
Several factors combined to make the Turks vote for what has been one of Mr Erdogan’s key planks — political stability.
The stepped-up Kurdish insurgency, continuation of the Syrian war, streams of refugees from the south, a faltering economy and terror shocks — especially the Ankara double bombing that killed over 100 people — strengthened the AKP claim that only a stable government could pull Turkey out of the cornucopia of crises.
It was a calculated gamble, but there is no doubt it has paid off, for Mr Erdogan has emerged as Turkey’s most powerful figure since Kemal Ataturk. Three times prime minister and armed now with an absolute majority, Mr Erdogan looks forward to amending the constitution to make the presidency stronger.
Sunday’s election was, in fact, a referendum on Mr Erdogan himself. It now remains to be seen whether his renewed political strength will make him less sensitive to media criticism and enable him to reach out to his political opponents to steer the country out of the crises.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chief of the main opposition party CHP, asked the AKP to stick to the rule of law, while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struck a more magnanimous tone saying, “There is no one beaten in this election. Turkey won, our democracy won”.
In his speech acknowledging the AKP’s triumph, Mr Davutoglu spoke of the need for amending the constitution and sought all parties’ help in fighting terrorism but was candid enough to declare, “The new Turkey will be built under the leadership of President Erdogan”.
The president should now work towards lessening divisions.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2015