Don’t know if you saw this yesterday, but, from the Washington Post:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won Turkey’s first direct presidential election Sunday, striking a conciliatory tone toward critics who fear he is bent on a power grab as he embarks on another five years at the country’s helm.
“I will not be the president of only those who voted for me, I will be the president of 77 million,” Erdoğan said in a victory speech delivered from the balcony of the Ankara headquarters of his Justice and Development Party , or AKP.
“Today the national will won once again, today democracy won once again,” he told thousands of flag-waving, cheering supporters. “Those who didn’t vote for me won as much as those who did, those who don’t like me won as much as those who do.”
The three-term prime minister’s message of unity was in stark contrast to his mostly bitter, divisive election campaign, when he poured scorn on his opponents, cast doubt on their Turkish identity and even accused his main challenger of being part of a shadowy coup conspiracy he said was run by a former associate living in the United States.
This is actually very dramatic news.
Erdoğan is an Islamist…you may recall this, but just in case you don’t…
Erdoğan was one of the principal leaders of the Islamist Welfare Party, serving as mayor of Istanbul, up until the time the party was banned (for being Islamist) by Turkey’s Constitutional Court in 1998. He served four months out of a 10 month sentence for inciting religious hatred in 1999.
The party his is currently the member of, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) was formed as a replacement, so-called, “secular” version of the Welfare Party.
Erdoğan had an interesting piece of symbolism once he recognized that the election was won. Per Radio France International:
After learning that he had won about 52 per vent of the votes, compared to secularist candidate Ekmeleddine Isahnoglu’s 38.3 per cent and Kurdish left-winger Selhettin Dermitas’s 9.7 per cent, **Erdogan went to pray in the Eyup Sultan mosque, built after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople - now Istanbul - by the Ottomans.
That was where the Ottoman sultans were crowned** and Erdogan, who flew on to Ankara to meet his ecstatic fans, hopes to strengthen the presidency, which at present is largely a formal role.
It will be very interesting to see the developments in Turkey…particularly considering what is going on with their neighbors to the southeast.