Turkey’s Erdogan promises consensus after big win


Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party has scored a resounding third consecutive election victory, but he will need to seek consensus to push ahead with a planned new constitution.
Erdogan, whose AK has transformed Muslim Turkey into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and ended a cycle of military coups, won some 50 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election. The result boosted financial markets. The Turkish lira strengthened against the dollar, while bonds also gained as investors saw the result forcing the AK Party to compromise with other parties to replace the constitution, which was written almost 30 years ago during a period of military rule. “The new constitution requires consensus and dialogue with other parties and the society at large,” Cengiz Aktar, a professor at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, told Reuters.
“We will see if Erdogan is ready for these with his majority or will he go his own way and impose his own views on Turkey — in which case we will have difficult times.” Though Erdogan failed to win enough seats to call a referendum on a planned new constitution, the vote marked AK’s biggest electoral tally since it first came to power in 2002, and Turkish newspapers lauded his success. “Turkey loves him”, “The master of the ballot box”, said front page headlines next to pictures of a smiling Erdogan waving to cheering supporters outside party headquarters.
Preliminary results showed AK winning 49.9 percent, or 326 seats, just below the 330 required for a plebiscite, and less than the 331 of the 550 seats it had in the last parliament.
Critics fear Erdogan, who has a reputation for not being accommodating to dissent, might use the victory to cement power, limit freedoms and persecute opponents.
But in a a victory speech before thousands of flag-waving supporters in the capital Ankara, he pledged “humility” and said he would work with rivals.
“People gave us a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation. We will discuss the new constitution with opposition parties. This new constitution will meet peace and justice demands.”