Turkey's victorious Erdogan set to assume sweeping powers

Posted June 26, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (Jun 25) celebrated winning sweeping new powers in a decisive election victory, as his main rival accepted the outcome despite complaints over an unequal campaign that alarmed the EU.

With Turkey holding parliamentary and presidential elections on the same day for the first time, Erdogan was also able to enjoy an overall majority in parliament with the help of his allies from the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

State media reports said Erdogan had won 53% of the 99% votes counted, and his closest rival Muharrem Ince had 31%.

Having defeated the twin threats of a reinvigorated opposition and a weakened currency, Erdogan addressed cheering supporters in the capital, Ankara, saying the victor of the election was democracy, the national will and the nation itself.

"We have received the message that has been given to us in the ballot boxes", he told a crowd of flag-waving supporters.

Ignacio Sanchez Amor, head of the OSCE short-term observer mission in Turkey, said, "The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections".

Erdogan spoke of his commitment to fight terrorist organisations and "to continue the fight to make the Syrian grounds freer" and to better the country's "international reputation".

"I will keep up the fight as someone who got the approval of one person among every three in Turkey", he added.

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Ince of the Republican People's Party (CHP), who had challenged Erdogan with an energetic campaign and earlier accused the authorities of "manipulation", maintained an unusual silence after the results were announced before conceding defeat later Monday.

"We're now in a one-man rule - there's no mechanism to prevent arbitrary rule".

People wave flags outside the Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in Istanbul on June 24, 2018, during the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections.

Erdogan, who argued for years in favor of an executive presidency in order to avoid coalitions, is now forced into a coalition with an ultranationalist partner that is likely to extract significant concessions from him. Erdoğan claimed a win with 52.6 percent in the presidential elections, while the People's Alliance secured 344 parliamentary seats, gaining the majority in the 600 seat Parliament.

"Now that Erdogan is comfortable, his point of power can allow him to open a new page if he wants to".

Worldwide observers criticized the election Monday, saying it took place on "uneven playing field" tilted in favour of Erdogan and his ruling party, which "enjoyed undue advantage, including in media".

The election coincides with the implementation of a new executive presidential system which was approved in a referendum previous year. The opposition nationalist Iyi (Good) party had 10 percent, according to state media. The new presidency means that he will have nearly no checks and balances imposed on him, though he will remain dependent on his collaboration with the MHP in parliament.

CNN reports that Erdogan declared himself the victor before the results were announced, leading to opposition claims that "state media and the election commission had manipulated the results and saying it was too early to be sure of the outcome".

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The opposition candidates had pledged to overturn the new powers, which were narrowly passed by referendum past year, if they won.

Ince told reporters on Monday: "I accept the results of the election".

He said: "Mr Erdogan is now an all-powerful man, not just de facto but also formally".

The election commission later confirmed Erdogan the victor, and also said Erdogan's Justice and development Party (AKP) and its allied Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had retained their parliamentary majority.

According to Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of German Marshall Fund of the United States, it was not the campaign performance of Erdogan or underperformance of his opponents that created the result.

Turkey began European Union membership talks in 2005, but the discussions have been at a standstill in recent years.

The election followed a short but intense campaign that took place under the emergency rule, still in effect after the July 2016 coup attempt.

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