PM Erdogan hails "great" election victory

AK Party leader hints at presidential bid

AK Party leader hints at presidential bid

ANKARA - Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said he will build a “stronger democracy” after his ruling Justice and Development Party seemed set for a decisive local election victory on Sunday.

Speaking to a cheering crowd of supporters at his AK Party's headquarters in the capital, Ankara, Erdogan hailed a "great" electoral victory. The AK Party received 47 percent of the vote, placing it well ahead of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which won 27 percent.

"Let no one grieve today; let every one of the 77 million know that Turkey won today," Erdogan said. "We will bring a stronger democracy."

Erdogan blamed opposition parties' failure to gain ground on the AK Party down to "insincerity" and lack of organization.

He also denounced attempts to "shape Turkey's politics through non-political means" – an apparent reference to a 'parallel state' allegedly run by followers of a U.S.-based Turkish preacher, accused of being linked to unspecified foreign elements.

The prime minister thanked citizens for "reclaiming the struggle for freedom in the new Turkey".

"You stood up for Turkey's ideals... for politics, for your party and your prime minister," Erdogan said.

Erdogan also thanked his supporters in the Middle East, Balkans and Europe, "whose hearts beat like ours and who are celebrating this victory with as much enthusiasm as we do".

With over 60 percent of the votes counted across Turkey, the CHP stands at 27 percent, the conservative National Movement Party (MHP) at 14 percent and the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) at 3 percent.

- Presidency hint

The result is likely to set the tone for a busy election schedule for Turkey; the country will choose a new president in August and stage a general election in July next year.

Sunday’s outcome suggests that a majority of Turkey's 52-million-strong electorate, including many first-time voters – some of whom were active in last year's anti-government 'Gezi' protests – have approved Erdogan's rule.

It is also a positive sign for the Turkish leader ahead of August’s presidential race. Erdogan is yet to declare his candidacy, although after three terms as prime minister, many are expecting him to stand.

Erdogan hinted at the possibility in his speech late on Sunday:

"We will try to stand faithfully for whatever [responsibility] is entrusted upon us," he told supporters.

Gezi protesters have been mostly labelled as being a highly visible group of young protesters disgruntled by Erdogan's 12-year rule, angry at an alleged worsening in the country’s state of rights and freedoms.

The Turkish authorities’ recent moves to block access to Twitter and YouTube, ostensibly to prevent the spread of potentially damaging wiretapping leaks, have faced international criticism but seem to have failed to dent the AK Party's popularity.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency