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Recep_Tayyip_Erdoğan_election_rally_(cropped)Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdoğan (pictured left) is the clear winner in the local elections held yesterday. With about 98% of votes counted by early this morning, his party, the AKP, in power since 2002, had 45.6% of the vote whiled the opposition CHP trailed with 28%, according to Turkish television. Some 50 million citizens voted. Erdoğan set a defiant tone by declaring that he would “enter the lair” of enemies who had accused him of corruption and leaked state secrets. “They will pay for this.”

Hürriyet Daily News (Turkey’s oldest current English-language daily) today commented:

“Here is the naked truth: Half of those corruption claims in any other democratic country would be enough for the collapse of the government; in Turkey it cost only some 5 points of loss in support of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s votes in the local elections on March 30.

“It is also true that Turkey has never experienced an election with so much fraud claims in decades. Power outages in critical districts of critical cities like Istanbul and Ankara on elections night, replacing of poll box observers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) during the vote count allegedly by street bullies to intimidate observers from other parties, especially in Ankara, trying to prevent poll observers from being in the room during voting, in especially the east and southeast of the country, are some of those claims.

“Those claims could have changed the result in some cities, but let’s face the truth: The difference between the AK Party and others is not in the single digits. Istanbul and Ankara could have changed the picture, but it did not. The majority of Turkish voters have closed their eyes and ears to corruption claims, because Erdoğan told them to do so; he has still such an influence on them…”