The Guardian: Erdogan’s election victory could be good news for Turkish democracy

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (3rd R) greets his supporters with his family members in Ankara. Erdogan’s family members from L to R are his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, his daughter Esra Erdogan Albayrak, his wife Emine, his son Bilal and his daughter Sumeyye. Note: the vote in Ankara was very close and Hurriyet reports that counting is not quite done although AKP does appear to have won

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had deliberately projected the 30 March local elections in Turkey as a referendum on his rule. Results give his party, the AKP, about 45% of the votes – up 5% from the last local elections – with its principal challenger the CHP more than 16 percentage points behind. This has vindicated his claim that almost half the Turkish population supports him and his party despite the corruption scandals surrounding his government.

Some Turkish commentators seem puzzled by the fact that “half of the corruption claims [faced by Erdoğan] in any other democratic country would be enough for the collapse of the government.”

Supporters of Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan turn on their mobile phones as they celebrate their election victory in front of the party headquarters in Ankara March 31, 2014

However, the election outcome is less puzzling when analysed in the Turkish political context. Corruption had been an endemic part of the Turkish political system until the AKP came to power in 2002, and the party seemed to have a relatively clean record until recently. Turkish voters are therefore used to taking corruption claims in their stride.

The difference between earlier governments and that of the AKP is that the former were corrupt as well as economically inefficient, if not disastrous. The AKP government, even if corrupt, has delivered on the economic front with a very visible rise in the income level and standard of living of the average Turkish citizen…

In related Turkish news: Turkish telecom companies are intercepting traffic sent to public Internet address books run by Google and other U.S. firms, closing a major loophole Turkish people have used to circumvent a government blackout on social media, the U.S. companies said.

In recent days, Turkish telecoms across the country have started intercepting and redirecting user requests sent to public address books—known as domain-name system servers—run by Google, Level 3 Communications and OpenDNS, the three companies said Monday.

Many of the requests are being sent to partially state-owned Turk Telekomunikasyon, which is using its own machines to masquerade as the U.S. firms’ name servers, allowing the former monopoly to redirect or block Web users’ access to sites across the Internet without users’ knowledge, Internet monitoring firm Renesys said.

Spokesmen for Turkey’s communications ministry and for Turk Telekomunikasyon’s internet-service provider didn’t respond to requests for comment…

See also here on Turkish Internet censorship (less detailed but no reader restrictions)

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One can always count on The Guardian for some stupid commentary. The Economist was an Erdogan booster for years–on account of his economic success, calling his government “mildly Islamist.”

But when he started putting down protests and especially, starting ranting about an “interest rate lobby” and other conspiracy theories he became too much even for them.

Just in: Turkey’s main opposition to reject Ankara electoral result: (Reuters) – Turkey’s main opposition CHP party said on Monday it would appeal against municipal election results in the capital Ankara where it suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) on Sunday.

The AKP won 44.8% of the vote in Ankara to the CHP’s 43.9%, according to provisional results on Turkish television. Angry crowds gathered at CHP headquarters late on Sunday claiming fraud, as it became clear their candidate had failed to win one of the closest races in the nationwide polls.