Global Post: ISTANBUL, Turkey — By the early hours of Monday morning, it appeared clear that the party of Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, won an extraordinary victory in countrywide municipal elections.
Among the thousands of polls held across Turkey on Sunday, the results from Istanbul, Ankara and the national average constitute a verdict. By 2 a.m. on March 31, local time, 80 percent of the votes were in and the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) looked to be headed back to Istanbul City Hall. Ankara was still too close to call.
Opposition television channels aired discussions of vote rigging Sunday, but there were no confirmed reports of irregularities.
Sunday’s vote was the first poll since the Gezi Park protests began in May and the first since an investigation of alleged corruption among close associates of Erdogan became public in December.
“It’s a critical win, especially after the Dec. 17 operation,” a man named Aydin said, referring to the corruption investigation, in the ballroom of the AKP’s Istanbul headquarters on Sunday.
“We have presidential elections in August. You see that man?” Aydin said pointing to a live feed of Erdogan giving a speech in Ankara. “He’s the next president.”
The government responded to the corruption investigation by transferring and firing several senior police officers and prosecutors, and increasing government control over the judiciary.
Soon after, recorded phone calls between the prime minister and his family and friends that purported to be evidence of massive graft began appearing on YouTube, posted regularly and anonymously.
Most critics presume these recordings prompted the government’s recent decision to block Twitter and YouTube.
Categories: Europe and Australia