Success for AKP, Kurds
"The conservative party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a clear victory in parliamentary elections on Sunday with a strong showing that critics worry might be used to further consolidate its power after nearly a decade of rule and to circumscribe civil liberties and its political opposition.
"With 99 percent of the returns counted, Mr. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party won about 50 percent of the votes, according to the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency. The main opposition group, the Republican People’s Party, won nearly 26 percent, and another opposition party, the Nationalist Action Party, had 13 percent, the agency said.
"The returns give the pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., its third term in office since it first won a parliamentary majority in 2002. The results, however, failed to provide the absolute majority that the party wanted to push for major changes, including a shift to a presidential system and the drafting of a new constitution. The party will now have to work to forge consensus with its opposition."
The "absolute majority" needed for a constitutional referendum is 60%, so the AKP is actually only four votes short. If they get them and push ahead with revisions to Turkey's military-written constitution of 1982, it will probably further Erdogan's standing as a new Ataturk for Turks opposed to the militant secularist legacy of Turkey's founder. One of the AKP's ostensible goals is to move toward a presidential rather than a parliamentary system, which I'm sure Erdogan thinks would fit him well.
The other winners in yesterday's elections were the Kurds:
"But the other story of the election was the strong gains made by Kurdish rights candidates, who needed to run as independents to get around rules requiring a party to get at least 10 percent of the vote to get into Parliament.
"A total of 36 candidates backed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won seats, a gain of 16 from the previous election...
"Independent candidates running for the BDP attracted around 60 percent of the votes in at least three mainly Kurdish provinces in the southeast and won large protest votes in some Turkish cities, such as İstanbul."