Sunday's victory is a boost for Erdogan, who called the early elections in May after opposition lawmakers blocked his choice of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to become the country's president.
The nomination sparked massive protests from Turks who feared the AKP would attempt to turn Turkey into an Islamic state. It also elicited a warning from Turkey's military -- which has seized power from civilian governments three times and pushed out a forerunner of the AKP in the 1990s -- that it would step in if necessary to protect the republic's secular tradition.
But the country has been prosperous since Erdogan took office in 2003, promising to pursue pro-business policies and to push for Turkey's entry into the European Union. He urged his followers to accept the election results "with maturity."
"The elections are over, but the test continues for us," he said. "We practice unity politics, and we will continue doing that."
Erdogan has admirably (and fortunately for the Bush Adminsration) shown great restraint in not forcibly moving into Kurdistan to go after the terrorist groups that operate against them in Northern Iraq (though he's certainly rattled the saber). It is worth noting that the nationalist party whose platform was dedicated to taking stronger measures against these groups ended winning more than 14% of the vote and winning 70 seats in Parliament -- drawn mostly from Erdogan's Party. What this augers for the future is best left to Juan Cole, rather than somebody with a Turkish Pseudonym.
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