Turkey’s President Urges Respect For His Party’s Election Win
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday hailed a big victory for his ruling party in the country’s parliamentary election and demanded the world respect the result.
The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, secured a stunning victory in Sunday’s snap parliamentary election, sweeping back into single-party rule only five months after losing it.
With all of the ballots counted early on Monday, the preliminary results showed that the party won more than 49 percent of the votes. It was projected to get 317 seats in the 550-member parliament, restoring the party’s single-party majority that it had lost in a June election.
Turkish financial assets were buoyant Monday after the AKP’s victory as investors hoped it will bring an end to a long period of political uncertainty. The Turkish lira was one big beneficiary from the result, surging by 5 percent or so on foreign exchange markets.
“The whole world must show respect. So far I haven’t seen such a maturity from the world,” Erdogan said after attending prayers at a mosque and visiting his parents’ graves.
It was an apparent reference to Western media’s often critical coverage of AKP’s policies in the past few years, including the ruling party’s backsliding on democratic reforms and moves to muzzle critical voices.
International election observers on Monday noted that elections were free and peaceful but criticized media restrictions in the run-up to the vote, including the seizure by the government of an opposition media company and criminal investigations of journalists for allegedly supporting terrorism or defaming Erdogan. The observers said the incidents of violence as well as physical attacks on party officials had hindered many of the contestants’ ability to campaign.
“The will of the people … opted for stability,” Erdogan said. “The developments in that short span of time made the people say: ‘there is no way out other than stability.'”
On Monday, the European Union’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement praising the strong voter turnout of more than 85 percent as a sign of the Turkish people’s commitment to democracy. They said the 28-nation group would work with the new government to advance ties.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said in Washington that “we congratulate the people of Turkey on their participation in yesterday’s parliamentary election. The United States looks forward to working with the newly elected parliament, and with the future government.”
In Germany, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was now important for Turkey to tackle challenges including fighting IS militants, solving the Kurdish conflict and overcoming polarization “in the spirit of national unity and readiness to compromise.”
The lira’s recovery Monday came following a bad year. As well as suffering from the fallout of the previous election, the lira has been hit by expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates. That will ratchet up the costs for Turkish companies, many of whom have borrowed in dollars to fund their expansion. It could also see an outflow of funds from Turkey as the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates encourages investors from around the world to reduce their exposure to emerging markets in favor of improving returns in the U.S.