Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed a second five-year term last weekend. His government’s record since 2002 should have made victory a given, but fears that it would drift toward more Islamic fundamentalist rule had tempered enthusiasm for his Justice and Development Party, or AKP. The results demonstrate faith in Mr. Erdogan’s commitment to Turkey’s secular government and the country’s democracy.

Mr. Erdogan took office in 2002 when the AKP won 34 percent of the last parliamentary vote. While in office, he has pursued probusiness policies that tamed inflation — which dropped from 18.4 percent in 2003 to 9.7 percent in 2006 — while managing to generate economic growth of some 7 percent annually. The economy has expanded for 21 straight quarters, the longest period of growth since the country was founded. Foreign investment hit a record $20 billion in 2006.

That impressive record was thought to be in danger of being trumped by fears that Mr. Erdogan was pressing an Islamist agenda and would undermine Turkey’s secular traditions. The most damning mark was his nomination in April of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for president. Mr. Gul is a pious Muslim whose wife wears a head scarf. The nomination prompted a warning from the chief of the general staff, who said the military would be prepared to intervene in politics if it felt the country’s secular traditions were at risk. That was no idle threat: Turkey’s military has launched four coups and ejected a government it considered too Islamic in 1997. The warning prompted Mr. Erdogan to call parliamentary elections several months early to solidify his position.

It was a smart move. With some 80 percent of voters going to the polls, the AKP won nearly 47 percent of the ballots, an increase of 13 percent over the 2002 election. It was, said Mr. Erdogan, the first time that a Turkish government has picked up support after a term in office. The results give the AKP about 340 seats in the 550-seat Parliament (a slight decrease from the last assembly because a third party won enough votes to enter this time). While that is not enough to name the president, it is enough to call a mandate and a vote of confidence following the military threat. Significantly, the AKP does not have the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution, thus allaying some fears. With the secular opposition holding at least 111 seats, the nationalists at least 71, and independents the rest, Parliament will remain the scene of considerable deal making.

Speaking after the results were in, Mr. Erdogan said he would continue his policies. He pledged to continue Turkey’s modernization, to push for business reform, more democracy, membership in the European Union and maintenance of the country’s ties to NATO. He also sounded a conciliatory note, telling voters who did not support him: “I also understand the message you sent in ballot boxes. We respect your choices. . . . We will never compromise on the basic principles of the republic.”

The new government faces two immediate challenges: electing the president — it is still unclear whether Mr. Gul’s name will be put up again amid speculation that the government will seek support from nationalists — and dealing with the military’s pressure to authorize an incursion into northern Iraq to attack Turkish Kurds based there. That area is dominated by Kurds who dream of establishing an ethnic homeland with Kurds from Turkey, Syria and Iran. Turkish Kurds have been fighting for independence for decades; more than 30,000 people are thought to have lost their lives in the struggle. Attacks have picked up in the last year, and Turkish forces see support from Iraq’s Kurds as key to the resurgence. Mr. Erdogan must find ways for Turkey’s Kurds to better express their identity and drain support from the separatists. The presence of more than two dozen Kurds in the new Parliament could help the government if they work for realistic solutions.

A third thorny issue is membership in the European Union. Joining the EU has long been a goal for Turkey, but European attitudes have hardened over time amid fears of the influence that a Muslim nation would have on the bloc’s identity. That attitude has generated a backlash, as many Turks are now angry at Europe and see its demands on Ankara for reform of laws and human rights practices as overly intrusive.

Mr. Nicholas Sarkozy, the new French president, is skeptical about Turkey’s bid to join the EU. He should think again. The Erdogan government has an outstanding record in office and has provided a powerful example of how modernity, Islam and democracy can be reconciled. Those are the forces that need to be encouraged throughout the Islamic world. The Turkish people have recognized Mr. Erdogan’s contributions. It’s high time the rest of the world did, too.

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