Turkish election result gives government some certainty, but opponents chafe

(Photo: Flickr / Fortum Sverige)Turkish state visit at Värtan. Prime minister Erdogan and top managment at Fortum studying Fortum technology.

The BBC described President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey's comeback kid after he snared enough votes to lead his country in a surprise election resulted.

The front pages of the Turkish press showed the dichotomy of opinion in the country after the most surprising election result in a decade.

While the pro-government Yeni Safak hailed a "glorious victory"; the opposition-leaning Cumhuriyet called it a "victory of fear".

"That shows the polarization at the heart of Turkish society - and it is widely blamed on one man: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan," commented the BBC.

Turkey's pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) regained the parliamentary majority it had lost in June in the Nov. 1 poll.

Founded by Erdogan the AKP won over 49 percent of the vote to secure 315 seats in the 550-member parliament, enough to form a government.

"Improbably, Erdogan was able to embody stability when the politics of instability have been his modus operandi over the past five months.

"Or perhaps not so improbably — Erdogan, in power now for a dozen years, understands the psychology of fear and the force of Sunni Turkish nationalism, especially when the old specter of the Kurdish conflict appears," wrote Roger Cohen in The New York Times.

"The president has played with fire. His stance toward the terror-wielding jihadis of the Islamic State has married symbolic opposition to benign negligence, enough anyway to produce two terrorist attacks, one near the Syrian border on July 20 and one last month in Ankara, that left about 130 people dead.

"Most of the victims were Kurds. Goaded and attacked on several fronts in recent months, inside and beyond Turkish borders, the militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K., returned to violence, killing two Turkish policemen on July 22.

"The old war stirred. It allowed Erdogan to suggest that only he stood between Turkey and the mayhem in neighboring states."

Cohen noted this is what changed in four months.

"Erdogan did not respect the will of the people, of which he likes to speak. The June result was not to his liking; he set out, by all means, to overturn it and secure a parliamentary majority. Fragility was his political ally."

Critics and the opposition said Erdogan manipulated the press crackdown and a bloody new campaign against Kurdish rebels to convince voters frightened by the upsurge of violence.

Erdogan rejected the charges, saying he alone could ensure national security at a time when the Syrian conflict has stoked regional tensions and forced more than 2 million refugees to seek safety in Turkey, Reuters news agency reported.

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