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 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.”

On Sunday night, a percussion bomb exploded in southeast Turkey, injuring 11 people celebrating election victories of Kurdish candidates, security and hospital officials said.

The explosion occurred around 11 p.m. (9 p.m. BST) in the province of Sirnak, near the Iraqi border. Casualties were being treated at a nearby hospital.


European Union candidate Turkey and Erdogan’s party are often are cited as models for supporters of democracy living through the “Arab Spring” series of anti-authoritarian protests in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

But opponents say Erdogan, whose party evolved from banned Islamist movements, is imposing a conservative social agenda.

Since crushing old establishment parties on a wave of support from a rising middle class of religious Turks, Erdogan has challenged the secularist military and judiciary with reforms meant to win Turkey membership in the European Union.

He also has set the long-time NATO member and U.S. ally on a more assertive foreign policy course, building closer relations with Middle East countries, including Iran.

The new leader of the secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which garnered its best result in more than 30 years with 25.9 percent of the vote, warned Erdogan that he would be watching his movements closely.

“We wish all success to AKP, but they must remember there’s a stronger main opposition party now,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu said.

Some financial analysts had warned that too large an AK majority could polarise a country that is deeply divided over the role of religion and ethnic minorities.

A limited majority is seen making the government focus on macroeconomic imbalances, including an overheating economy.

“It paves the way for the opportunity on the part of the authorities to tighten policies,” said Benoit Anne, head of EM Strategy for Societe Generale.

“We would like to see more fiscal discipline. This can be achieved after elections. The ideal scenario would be to see even the central bank to do some tightening as well.”

There has been speculation that Erdogan would seek to move Turkey towards a more presidential system of government, with the ultimate aim of becoming president himself.

Besides the economy, Erdogan’s government also will need to tackle a separatist conflict in the mainly Kurdish southeast. A strong showing by the pro-Kurdish BDP in the Kurdish region played a role in denying the AK a bigger vote haul.

Analysts said Erdogan will need to focus as well on reviving Turkey’s faltering EU bid and on unrest in neighbouring Syria, which has sent thousands of refugees spilling over the border as Syrians flee an increasingly bloody crackdown on popular unrest. (Reuters)

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