As Sunday’s (July 22nd) elections ended with a landslide victory for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), reaction from the international community was positive.
“The voting was organised well and conducted in an orderly and professional fashion that testifies to a long-standing tradition of democratic elections in this founder-member of the Council of Europe,” said Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Election Observation Delegation head Luc Van den Brande during a press conference Monday in Ankara.
Van den Brande, who headed the PACE delegation covering the elections, said his group was impressed. “The high voter turnout showed that genuine confidence in the democratic process exists in Turkey. The Supreme Electoral Board, as well as district and local polling stations officials, dispatched their duties effectively and in good faith.”
However, Van de Brande criticised the 10% threshold requirement. “I only wish that this election was as fair as it was unquestionably free,” he said, adding that the threshold is the highest among the 47 countries of the Council of Europe.
“While there is not a universally agreed standard in this regard, PACE, in its recent Resolution on the State of Human Rights and Democracy in Europe, recommended that, for democracies, the threshold should be fixed at a lower level.”
European Commission President JosÃ© Manuel Barroso was one of first EU officials to congratulate Erdogan on his victory. “This comes at an important moment for the people of Turkey as the country moves forward with political and economic reforms. Prime Minister Erdogan has given his personal commitment to the sustained movement towards the European Union. I wish him every success with his new mandate,” Barroso said.
The US embassy in Ankara issued a statement saying “The United States congratulates Turkey on its vibrant democracy and commitment to free and open elections. Turkey’s voters have once again demonstrated their confidence in democracy and the rule of law. We look forward to working with the new government once it is formed and all members of the new parliament on issues of concern to both our countries.”
Amid the current debate in Turkey regarding whether to launch a cross-border attack into northern Iraq, against camps used by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also congratulated ErdoÄŸan and his party and predicted they will achieve “more political and economical victories for the nation”.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn urged the new government to continue legislative and economic reforms.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called on the EU to “reach out” to the new government in Turkey when it is formed. “A stable and secure political situation in Turkey is massively in our interest and we will certainly want to be taking forward our links with this very important country,” Miliband urged.
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also sent congratulatory messages to Erdogan.