The big day arrived and millions of Turkish voters reached a final decision. The lead-up to Sunday's parliamentary elections was quite intense: Turkey held a historic vote at a time when illegal groups and terrorist organizations attempted to poison civilian politics.
Ahead of the parliamentary contest, the PKK and the Gülen Movement took notable steps to destabilize Turkey. When the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lost its parliamentary majority on June 7, the PKK saw an opportunity to end the two-year cease-fire and restart its violent campaign. Gülenists did everything in their power to interfere with the political process, as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants threatened and killed Turkish citizens. In the meantime, a group of self-proclaimed intellectuals came up with a brilliant idea to discredit the Turkish government in the international arena. Against the backdrop of all this, the mainstream press violated media ethics by legitimizing the actions of a terrorist organization. Together, they preached that things were going south in Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan along with the AK Party were to blame. The opposition's irrational rage against the president has reached such heights that the entire public debate came to revolve around Erdoğan.
Unfortunately, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) opted to pour fuel on the fire instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue about the country's future. In the end, the electorate proved them wrong. While the CHP failed to deliver a stronger performance, the MHP and HDP effectively lost a significant number of votes and parliamentary seats. Instead of reflecting on their mistakes, certain opposition figures unsuccessfully tried to discredit the election just hours after 87 percent of registered voters went to the polls.
Ahead of the elections, a number of reasonable experts had been making the case that the Turkish people alone would decide which party would be at the helm. On Sunday, 49.4 percent of the electorate united behind Ahmet Davutoğlu's AK Party and gave the incumbents a mandate to ensure stability, peace, social welfare and economic growth. As such, the short-lived interregnum that started in June has ended.
Each election, obviously, has winners and losers. On Sunday, the AK Party emerged as the uncontested victor as it regained its parliamentary majority. The party's adversaries, along with anyone who mistook the news reports as truth, have failed. Ultimately, certain groups trying to hijack political power through blackmail, fraud and violence have lost. Civilian politics and democracy have won.
Since 2011, Turkey wasted a lot of time and energy on arbitrary challenges. At a time when the country was moving forward, it was stopped in its tracks by the Gezi Park protests, the Gülenist crusade and PKK violence. Four years later, the Turkish people clearly established that the extra-parliamentary opposition has failed. At this point, everybody must respect the electorate's decision and honestly reflect on the results. The sooner one gives up on an ill-fated journey, as Turks say, the better. The country faces serious challenges that politicians must address without further delay.
Moving forward, Parliament will have to pass crucial laws as the government addresses the challenge of terrorism and to keep the economy growing despite immense pressure from outside. Having won 317 seats, Davutoğlu's government will need to create a road map for democratization and end political polarization.
Welcome to New Turkey, where the entire country will hopefully unite around national interests and focus on overcoming the challenges ahead.