In a three-part series, Al Jazeera examines the parties contesting Turkey’s upcoming elections.
Istanbul, Turkey – The Justice and Development Party (AK party) is set to lead Turkey alone once again after a five-month break, easily regaining its parliamentary majority in what Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called a victory for democracy.
With nearly all of the votes counted, the ruling party was leading Sunday’s general elections with 49.4 percent of the vote.
The AK party was followed by the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 25.4 of the votes, far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) with 11.9 percent and the pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) with 10.7 percent.
With these results, AK party is predicted to claim 316 seats in the 550-seat parliament, easily enough to win a majority government on its own.
It was chased by the CHP with 134 seats, HDP with 59 seats and MHP with 41 seats. Parties need to secure 276 seats to govern the country alone.
Addressing AK party supporters in his hometown Konya as the results became clear, prime minister and AK party leader, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that all 78 million people of Turkey would be embraced, whether or not they voted for the party.
“We are here to plant seeds of love. There is no rival or enemy on this land. There is only affection,” he said.
He also said that there were no losers in the elections, sending a message to voters who did not vote for the AK party.
“Nobody should get into a psychology of defeat. Our democracy has won,” he said.
The polls were held amid instability spilling over to Turkey from neighbouring Syria and renewed tensions over the 30-year-old Kurdish conflict.
Three bomb attacks in recent months on political and activist rallies across Turkey, blamed on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), shocked the Turkish public, killing 139 people.
A bomb explosion in October at a peace rally in the capital, Ankara, killed 102 people. The violence marked the worst such attack in the country’s modern history.
Meanwhile, an escalating conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group fighting for more rights for Turkey’s ethnic Kurds, has killed scores of Turkish soldiers since a ceasefire and talks between the sides broke down in July.
Amid this atmosphere, the currency of the state, the Turkish lira, has massively depreciated, threatening the stability of the economy.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the outcome of Sunday’s vote was a vote for stability and a message to Kurdish fighters that violence could not coexist with democracy.
Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish analyst and columnist, said Sunday’s result is a major and unexpected victory for the AK party.
“The escalating terrorist attacks and decline of the economy since July created fear about political instability. Those who seek stability voted for the AK party, fearing that the coalition governments are bad for Turkey as it was in the 1990s,” Akyol told Al Jazeera.
More than 54 million people were registered to vote at some 175,000 stations on Sunday. The participation rate stood at 86.1 percent.
The vote was a rerun of a June election in which the AK party surprisingly lost its 13-year one-party rule due to a strong showing by the pro-Kurdish HDP.
But the four political parties that made their way to the parliament failed to produce a coalition government and snap elections were called.
In the June polls, the AK party secured 258 seats, losing many to the HDP, which achieved unprecedented success for a pro-Kurdish party by getting 80 seats.
Supporters of the AK party say it changed the decades-long secularist military and bureaucracy-powered politics of Turkey, freeing the religiously conservative parts of the society and converted an ailing economy plagued by chronic inflation into a growing and stable one.
However, the party has been criticised in the recent years by Western governments, rights groups and the Turkish opposition parties for cracking down on opposition protests and press freedom, alleged corruption, social media bans, and judicial amendments allegedly meant to accumulate power.
Rabia Agun, a 30-year-old voter who works in international trade, believes justice has prevailed.
“I respect the wise people of our party who went to polls once again after June polls. Tomorrow, I will wake up to a firmer and more secure Turkey for my children,” she told Al Jazeera at AK party’s Istanbul headquarters while celebrating the victory.
Cavit Hamit, a 19-year-old university student, is happy that he will not see a coalition government in Turkey.
“I don’t remember a coalition government in power in this country because of my young age. Hope I won’t ever see it,” he told Al Jazeera.
“In order to aspire for tomorrow, one should lay claim to today. AK party is doing that,” Suleyman Buyukbesneslili, a 48-year-old machinery worker, said at the AK party headquarters.
“I surrender myself to AK party without questioning it for what it has done for this country. This is the way to do it,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that some AK party voters, who were temporarily mistaken, came back “home”.