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Erdogan 'walks away with the pie'

Turkish media hails prime minister's third straight election triumph as columnists urge him to reach out to opposition.
Last modified: 13 Jun 2011 19:16
Cartoon courtesy of Hurriyet newspaper

Monday's newspaper front pages in Turkey were full of praise for Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "historic win" in Sunday's elections, with headlines such as “Erdogan again”, “Triumph”, “Turkey loves you”. 

According to Posta, Erdogan had once again "crushed the competition" by "making history for being the first party in 46 years to not only win a third term, but to be the first to win by more votes".

"The AKP won 52.87 per cent of the vote in 1965, 46 years later Erdogan's party is the first to reach so close to 50 per cent", the paper said.

While the main secular opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP), had won 26 per cent of the vote and "increased its approval rating since 2007 by five per cent", the party “only came first in seven districts and failed to win in areas where they fared well in previous elections."

A political cartoonist for Hurriyet used his wit and his pen to highlight the fact that Erdogan had walked away from this election with a bigger portion of the pie chart than the opposition.

Most Turkish newspapers also concentrated on the fact that the number of women MPs in parliament had increased from 46 to 78 seats: AKP (45), CHP (19), MHP (3), BDP (11).

Notable among them was Leyla Zana, a 50-year-old Leyla Zana with legendary status within the Kurdish community of the southeast.

Papers also pointed out that the only three headscarf-wearing candidates, standing for for the AKP and the MHP, failed to win votes.

Some columnists argued Erdogan should give all his speeches from balconies because "it was refreshing to hear a speech that spoke of friendship and unity".

Hurriyet newspaper wrote that "all colours of the public are represented in parliament now, the time has come to concentrate on the constitution".

Ismet Berkan, a columnist for Hurriyet, wrote: "Despite how people may feel about the AKP, one has to respect what they have achieved vote wise after eight years in power".

However, he warned that Erdogan needed to take into account that his party "did not fare well where Kurds are the majority" .

Milliyet newspaper led with an anecdote from Erdogan's victory speech: "I will knock on (CHP leader) Kemal Kilicdaroglu's door".

HaberTurk columnist Dipsiz Kuyu argued that the AKP had won "with a significant support base", but lost "because the Kurdish issue has come back to haunt Erdogan now that there are more representatives in parliament than ever".

Other papers provided a breakdown of how specific areas voted: In Istanbul, AKP received 49 per cent, CHP 31 per cent and MHP 9 per cent.

In Ankara, AKP won 49.2 per cent, CHP won 31 per cent ("more than usual" writes HaberTurk) and MHP received 14 per cent.

In Izmir, however, CHP claimed a “resounding victory” with 43.8 per cent of the votes.

A few newspapers even posted what CHP loyalists had to say about their victory in the coastal city on Twitter: "I think I know where I'm going for my summer holiday" wrote AliCan.

Sabah newspaper dedicated a double-paged spread showcasing how Turkey's older population voted in Sunday's election.

In one of the images, Asimov Aykuz, a 63-year-old heart patient, was shown voting from his hospital bed.

In Batman, newspapers reported that 51 people were arrested for trying to vote with false IDs.

The Turkish media, both on television and in print, are dissecting Erdogan’s win in the same pragmatic fashion. However, it is clear that the challenges ahead for Turkey are bigger than parties and politics.