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Turkey's Erdogan Calls for Responsibility After Election

  • VOA News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Monday for his country's fractious political parties to act responsibly in the aftermath of elections that ended his ruling majority in parliament, but financial markets quickly recoiled at the uncertainty.

Turkey's currency slid to a record low against the U.S. dollar and Istanbul's stock market plunged 8 percent.

Erdogan was hoping for a two-thirds majority in the 550-seat parliament so Ankara's constitution could be rewritten to switch from a parliamentary to presidential democracy — giving him more power. His Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 41 percent of the vote — down sharply from the nearly 50 percent it won four years ago.

Stunning rebuke

It was a stunning rebuke for Erdogan, who said no party could claim a mandate to form a single-party government.

"In this new process, it is of great importance that all the political forces show responsible behavior and the necessary sensitivity to preserve the atmosphere of stability and confidence in our country and our democratic achievements," Erdogan said in a statement.

Political analyst Cengiz Candar told VOA's Kurdish Service, "The election results have put a very clear barricade in front of intentions and ambitions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who wants to be the sole ruler and one-man-ruler of Turkey."

But what unfolds next is unclear.

AKP could try to form a coalition government, possibly with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Analysts say it is unlikely, but a broad opposition coalition could also be formed. If these possibilities fail, Erdogan could call for another parliamentary election.

The PDP factor

For the first time, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) cleared the 10 percent vote count threshold it needed to join parliament, with some analysts predicting it would seat nearly 75 lawmakers. Those projections triggered celebrations late Sunday in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

"This is a joint victory of all the oppressed — Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Caucasians, Armenians and Bosniaks; of all ethnic identities who live in this country," said HDP's co-chair, Selahattin Demirtas. "It is the joint victory of all beliefs, Alawites, Sunnis, Christians, Jews, Yazidis, all of the discriminated that want to live free with their beliefs."

Late Sunday, a politically weakened Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reminded backers that his AKP was still the clear victor. He spoke to supporters in Ankara without acknowledging his party had lost its majority and that it will need to form a coalition for the first time since it came to power 13 years ago.

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