A jubilant President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday cast the return of Turkey’s Islamist-rooted AK Party to single-party rule as a vote for stability that the world must respect, but opponents fear it heralds growing authoritarianism and deeper polarisation.
The AKP defied pollsters and even the expectations of its own strategists in a general election on Sunday, consolidating support from the right to claw back a parliamentary majority that will bolster Erdogan’s grip on power.
It was a personal triumph for the combative leader, who despite being constitutionally above party politics as head of state had shaped the AKP’s executive committee and its parliamentary candidates in the run-up to the vote.
The result handed the AKP 317 of the 550 seats in parliament, only 13 short of the number Erdogan would need for a national referendum on constitutional changes he wants to forge a presidential system granting him full executive powers.
“The national will manifested itself on Nov. 1 in favour 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.”