Inside Story

Turkey elections: Test of Erdogan’s rule?

Ruling AK Party sweeps to success in local elections seen as a barometer of public opinion.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned his enemies in politics and the state that they would “pay the price”, after celebrating an emphatic victory in local elections.

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development party – the AK Party – won 45 percent of the vote. The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, gained around 30 percent, while the Nationalist Movement Party polled just over 15 percent.

Erdogan told a victory rally: “You embraced Turkey’s new struggle for freedom. Thank you. You embraced the great Turkish ideals and goals. I thank every one of you. You embraced your own will, your own future, politics, your party, your prime minister. I offer all of you my infinite gratitude.”

The campaign was dominated by a series of corruption allegations implicating senior government officials. The AK Party blamed supporters of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who’s living in exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Erdogan said: “We will not surrender to Pennsylvania and their offshoots in Turkey. From tomorrow, there may be some who flee, there are some who already fled. We will enter their lair. They will pay for this. They will pay the price.”

The result in the municipal polls gives Erdogan some welcome momentum, should he choose to run for president in August.

But does this election mark a new chapter in Erdogan’s political success story? Or does it signal more turmoil and political tensions to come?

Presenter: Kamahl Santamaria

Guests: Taha Ozhan – president of SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research

Fadi Hakura – a specialist on Turkey at Chatham House

Barcin Yinanc – Opinion editor of the Hurriyet Daily News