Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets supporters in Ankara on March 30. Erdogan's party was the victor in Sunday's local elections. (Agence France-Presse)
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ANKARA — Turkey’s long-serving Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured another election win at local polls Sunday, further reinforcing his grip on power ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections.
Analysts agree Erdogan’s latest victory means his (Islamist) Justice and Development Party (AKP), embattled by a slew of graft scandals since December, remains almost the sole power in Turkish politics.
At local polls viewed by many as a vote of confidence for Erdogan, AKP won 44 percent of the vote. The main opposition Republican People’s Party won 29 percent and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party won 17 percent of the nationwide vote. AKP also won mayorships in two of the three big Turkish cities, Istanbul and Ankara.
Defense analysts say major programs may soon gain pace after a de facto suspension due to election campaigning. They say Erdogan will personally take charge of multibillion-dollar contracts as soon as he reshuffles procurement bureaucracy.
Top procurement official, Murad Bayar, was removed from his office last week, to be appointed as Erdogan’s chief adviser. His successor remains to be announced.
A top-priority program Erdogan must now tackle is a controversial September decision to select a Chinese bidder for the construction of Turkey’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system.