Let us emphasize the key point: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has many reasons not to be very happy or relieved with the 51.8 percent of the vote which brought him to the presidency.
Up until the very last minute, most pollsters — including the one with higher credibility than the others, KONDA — told the public that he would receive at least 54-55 percent. Some of them may have done so in order to manipulate voters, but it is now a fact that the top echelons of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) feel disappointed with the outcome.
Whether or not Erdoğan was aware that he would win by a smaller margin than expected is open to speculation. His rhetoric, we know, became sharper days before the election. He said “they even called me — excuse my language — an Armenian,” he repeatedly emphasized his Sunni identity in rallies and made supporters jeer our esteemed colleague, Amberin Zaman, for “insulting Muslims.” Such actions should be seen in the context of his unease with the possibility of barely winning and his desperate hunt for more votes.
The 51.8 percent of voter support is important in the sense that it will now tie Erdoğan’s hands in how he steers the entire political machinery, how he will utilize the bureaucracy and, more importantly, whether or not he will start losing control over the very party he staunchly chaired since the departure of Abdullah Gül to the presidential post in 2007.
It is not a surprise that 51.8 percent was a figure low enough to make Gül start making political moves. It is a well-known secret that some core elements within the AKP feel disaffected with the way Erdoğan has taken to uncharted waters the party they founded and served rationally and with decency, staying away from corruption and emotional behavior. According to two former major party figures, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat and Ertuğrul Günay, the “dismayed” constitute up to 30 percent of the AKP.