Less than half a year after losing its hold on Turkey’s parliament, the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party regained a decisive majority Sunday in a dramatic snap election. It marks a considerable political coup for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been at the helm of the country for 13 years and now looks likely to further entrench his rule. In the buildup to Sunday’s election, a vast majority of pollsters and political analysts predicted a hung parliament and anticipated a tricky process of coalition-building that would have complicated Erdogan’s own designs on power. But by nightfall on Sunday, Erdogan’s ruling party, also known by the Turkish abbreviation AKP, had taken almost 50 percent of the vote and was expected to form a single-party government once more. The result took many experts by surprise.
“This election was a referendum on Erdogan,” said Bulent Aliriza, a Turkey scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “He rolled the dice and won.”
The president’s gamble began when he balked at the outcome of a general election in June in which the AKP lost its parliamentary majority.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the current leader of the party that Erdogan founded, was unable to form a coalition government, paving the way for a fresh round of elections that Erdogan hoped could restore the AKP’s position.