It seems that everyone won the election that was held in Turkey this weekend. Prime Minister Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) officially won, taking some 50 per cent of the vote, which is enough to secure him a third term in office, but not sufficient to enable his party to make changes to the constitution. As the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt notes, ‘Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey stands out. He is genuinely popular. He is socially conservative, but he has tapped into the aspirational mood of Turkey’s middle class.’
But although the opposition party, Republican People’s Party (CHP), lost the election they actually polled about a quarter of the votes, the best result it has had for three decades. And a greater number of MPs representing the Kurdish minority were elected.
The fact that Prime Minister Erdogan failed to win a “super-majority” is probably good for Turkey’s democracy, as he will now have to negotiate with the other parties. But his path to the Presidency seems to have become a lot easier.
The real obstacle may in fact be Syria, where the situation deteriorates daily as the Assad regime continues its murderous campaign. Syrian and Turkish relations have been close since 1998. But, having been let down by the Assads, Erdogan now has to make a novel choice: between the Syrian government and the Syrian people and public opinion at home may be nudging him towards denouncing the regime.