ANKARA – Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been re-elected for an unprecedented third time in a general election. The party increased its votes, securing around 50 percent of the ballots cast, VOANews informs. But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fell well short of his goal of a two-thirds parliamentary majority. According to the BBC, that translates to about 326 seats – a majority, but not enough to make unilateral constitutional changes. That is short of the “super majority” of 367 that would have enabled the party to push through constitutional changes on its own; or the 330 the party would have needed to put its own proposals directly to a public referendum.
Accepting his victory in Ankara, Erdogan said his party would be “humble”. “The people gave us a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation,” said the prime minister. “We will be seeking consensus with the main opposition, the opposition, parties outside of parliament, the media, NGOs, with academics, with anyone who has something to say.” Erdogan said the AKP and others would write a “civilian, free constitution which embraces all parties of the society together”.
In his victory speech, Erdogan also alluded to Turkey’s aspiration to be a voice in the West for the Middle Eastern region and Muslims, saying Bosnians, Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians also benefited from his victory.
More than 50 million people, about two-thirds of Turkey’s population of 73 million, were eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. NTV television said turnout was 84.5 per cent. The newspaper Today’s Zaman said there would be a record 78 female MPs – up from 50 in the last parliament. AKP supporters were celebrating on the streets of the capital on Sunday night.
The secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) won about 26 per cent of the vote with 135 seats – 23 more than last time, and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with 13 per cent had 53 seats, down 18. Independent candidates fielded by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) also did well in the south-east, winning 5.8 per cent of the vote and 36 seats.
The Turkish Cabinet was holding on Tuesday its last meeting as part of a government reshuffle in the wake of the victory.
The United States congratulated Turkey on Sunday’s vote and said the US looks forward to working with the new Turkish government, Today’s Zaman reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also sent a congratulations letter to Erdo?an, saying that the election results reflect the success of modernization policies he has been undertaking with determination over the past few years. British Prime Minister David Cameron called Erdog0an to congratulate him on the election results and also discussed the situation in Syria and Lebanon.