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Erdogan's Ottoman slap

March 31, 2014

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory for his party, condemning opposition members as "traitors." The conservative premier said the result was a vindication of his party's policies.

Supporters of the ruling AK Party wave Turkish and party flags as they wait for the arrival of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at the party's headquarters in Ankara March 30, 2014. Erdogan said Sunday's bitterly contested local elections would affirm his legitimacy in battling graft allegations and security leaks he blames on "traitors" within the Turkish state. The municipal elections have become a crisis referendum on Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party after weeks of scandal he has cast as a "dirty campaign" of espionage to implicate him in corruption and topple him after more than a decade in power. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Image: Reuters

With more than 81 percent of the votes counted, Erdogan's conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) had received 45.3 percent of the vote, the broadcaster CNN Turk reported early on Monday. Its main rival, the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP) garnered 28.2 percent.

Claiming victory, Erdogan labeled some members of the opposition "traitors" and said the electorate had judged them accordingly.

"You have supported your prime minister, I thank you infinitely," Erdogan told the crowd, speaking from the balcony of his party's Ankara headquarters.

"Democracy has won, free will has won. The people have delivered a proper Ottoman slap to them," he said.

Gap narrows in capital

Despite the apparent gap in polling nationally, the race was said to be closer in the capital Ankara. While the AKP were initially polling at about 45 percent, the CHP was running just behind, at some 43 percent.

The CHP has complained of instances of electoral fraud in some municipalities. There were clashes in rural areas, with eight people reported to have died in violence.

The local polls have become viewed as a referendum on Erdogan's government after it was tainted by a corruption scandal. The premier caused widespread anger among liberals in the run up to the elections when he blocked access to Twitter and You Tube to Turkish Internet users. Erdogan, who has been condemned as increasingly authoritarian, claimed the sites were being used to spread lies against the government.

Turkey's social media networks have been filled with recordings that allegedly show Erdogan talking to his son about hiding large sums of money. The prime minister has described the recordings as fakes created by his political rivals.

rc/crh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)