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After Victory, Erdogan Declares Rivals Will “Pay” for Opposing Him

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Sunday that he will “enter the lair” of his rivals and force them to “pay for” having leveled accusations of corruption against him and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), after local elections held across Turkey saw the AKP securing a plurality of the national vote.

“They will pay for this,” he said. Erdogan, fighting the biggest challenge of his 12-year rule, addressed supporters from a balcony at AKP headquarters at the end of a long and bitter election campaign in which he has labeled his opponents “terrorists” and an “alliance of evil”.

The harsh tone of his balcony address suggested he felt he now had a mandate for strong action against his enemies. “From tomorrow, there may be some who flee,” he said.

At least six people were killed in clashes during the polling.

Six people were killed on Sunday in clashes between groups backing rival candidates in Turkey’s municipal elections, which turned into a referendum on the rule of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Security officials said four people were killed in a gun fight between two families in the village of Yuvacik in the eastern province of Sanliurfa, which borders Syria.

A range of graft scandals, which eventually ensnared AKP elites including Erdogan and his family, last year plunged Turkey into open political warfare. The AKP initially moved to purge thousands of judiciary and police officials, and in recent days had also sought to dampen the tempo of public criticism by banning Twitter and YouTube, generating by turns international condemnation and widespread ridicule.

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News on Monday published an interview with Sabanci University professor Ahmet Evin, in which Evin linked what he described as a “deliberate effort” to stifle free speech inside Turkey to a broader collapse in Ankara’s regional stature.

Erdogan had nonetheless long been expected by analysts to ride a superior political infrastructure and his enthusiastic political base to continued electoral success. The post-election dynamics seem set to reignite long-standing criticisms of Erdogan as a majoritarian ruler who – per a June 2013 write-up in The Economist on his ideology – “holds that electoral might always makes you right.”

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