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Do Turkey’s election results signal stability or steps toward autocratic rule?

After five months of political instability and uncertainty, Turkey is again under firm control of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, which regained its majority in a national election Sunday. Supporters say it’s a return to stability, but opponents worry that the win signals a shift towards autocracy. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We turn now to Turkey, a nation at the forefront of the refugee crisis and a critical and often problematic partner to the U.S. in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State.

    The country has been in political limbo since June's election there failed to produce a clear-cut winner. That all changed last night, when President Recep Erdogan's party emerged victorious in Sunday's snap election. Supporters say the win is a return to stability.

    But, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports, others fear the results are a giant step towards autocratic rule.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    The call to prayer rang out around Central Istanbul today, reinforcing the message that after five months of political instability, Turkey is now back on a familiar track, under the firm control of the Islamic A.K., or A.K. Party, founded by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Political analysts here believe most Turks rejected the opposition parties because they needed a sense of security during a dangerous time. But not everyone in Taksim Square was happy.

  • MAN:

    Like I said, personally, I'm upset about what is going on. You don't have to be asking normal citizens. I think everybody knows about how democracy goes on here in Turkey, so many prisoners. You can't say what you're thinking, exactly. I don't feel free. I'm also a bit scared.

  • WOMAN (through interpreter):

    I think our people selected stability once again. And I think they decided well with a single-party government again.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    As the A.K. Party celebrated last night, the prime minister urged his parliamentarians to employ humility, instead of triumphalism. President Erdogan wasn't giving much away about his intentions today.

  • RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through interpreter):

    The national will manifested itself on November 1 in favor of stability. After the short-term developments, the national will decided that there is no way out other than choosing stability. They decided in favor of stability. I hope this outcome will be good for our people and our country.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    But international observers complained about election irregularities. Representing European election monitors, Andreas Gross urged President Erdogan to end Turkey's divisions and to be less authoritarian.

  • ANDREAS GROSS, European Election Monitor:

    Fear is the enemy of democracy, enemy of free choice. And in this sense, we are disappointed of the quality of the process. And in light of this, it is even more vital that this is an appeal that the president works in the future for a more inclusive political process.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    Leading Turkish political analyst Cengiz Aktar believes President Erdogan is now on course to get a referendum aimed at boosting his executive powers.

  • CENGIZ AKTAR, Political Analyst:

    If this man has a role model in the world, it's probably Vladimir Putin. So I think he will run by decree. He will just use the Parliament when he needs to use the Parliament, and he will put in practice his ideas and ideology that he thinks is the right thing for this country and for the people of this country, without asking anything to anyone.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    But Etyen Mahcupyan, a senior adviser to the prime minister, predicts that Turkish Muslims will not tolerate President Erdogan emulating his Russian counterpart, and believes their relationship with the A.K. Party is key to Turkey's future success.

  • ETYEN MAHCUPYAN, Senior Adviser:

    If democracy is right for this country, it will arrive through the hands of the Islamic community, the conservative community. And as long as this party alone can talk to them, can carry their voices and so on and so forth, it will be through our party.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    Political analysts expect to see a new self-confidence from the Turkish government. They don't expect any change in the policy regarding refugees. The A.K. Party will continue to press ahead with efforts to join the European Union.

    As far as the United States is concerned, they say that the most important thing is that Turkey will insist on having a big say in what happens in Syria.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Malcolm Brabant in Istanbul.

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