Erdogan confirmed victor of Turkey election that brings sweeping new powers

Tuesday, 26 Jun, 2018

Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party took an early lead in presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to preliminary partial results, boosting the president's hopes of extending his 15-year rule.

The stakes in the election were particularly high because of the enhanced powers for the new president under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan. Erdogan's foes accuse him of dismantling Ataturk's secular legacy by bringing religion back into public life.

Erdogan has however ruled out returning to a peace process with the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which the UK, EU and Turkey deems a terrorist organisation. The Russian leader once again congratulated his Turkish counterpart on winning the June 24 presidential election and wished him success on his post.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular - yet divisive - leader in modern Turkish history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union.

He also pledged a more "determined" fight against outlawed Kurdish rebels and alleged members of a movement led by US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating a 2016 failed coup against his government.

Turkey's currency crash also put the economy at the heart of the election and it is likely to be a key issue in the country's future.

"I remember a time when we had to wake up at 4 go to the hospital because the lines were so long".

Russian President Vladimir Putin "stressed that the results of the vote fully speak of Recep Tayyip Erdogan´s great political authority (and) mass support of the course conducted under his leadership to solve Turkey´s pressing social and economic tasks (and) strengthen the country´s position on the worldwide arena", the Kremlin said.

Meanwhile, Muharrem Ince, the candidate for the Republican People's Party (CHP), the county's main opposition party, accused official news agency Anadolu of manipulating results.

In separate parliamentary elections, the governing alliance led by Mr Erdogan's AK Party (AKP) secured a majority, with 53% and about 343 seats. It will be interesting to see if the new parliament might address these problems and take action to ensure that Turkey's next elections are, in fact, free and fair. Voter turnout for the election was reportedly 87%.

After the election result, the Turkish lira rose by as much as 3% against the dollar, but the gains didn't even last the morning.

But Ince, who had faced limited airtime on television in the campaign, said the run-up to the election had been unfair.

As he stepped aside, he had a message for the victor: "Be everyone's president, embrace everyone". Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule.

Mr Ince had previously complained that unequal campaign conditions in Turkey mean the election was "unjust". The TRT journalists left.

As president, Erdogan himself can appoint ministers and vice presidents, approve declarations, propose a budget and decide on security policies, all without parliamentary approval.

Ankara and Washington ties have been weathered by several issues including the latter's support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG), sparking fears of a direct confrontation between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Thousands of jubilant supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, also spilled into the streets of the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir after unofficial results from Anadolu showed the party coming in third with 11.5 percent of the legislative vote - surpassing the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

On Monday, Demirtas tweeted: "While other candidates could stage 100 campaign rallies, I was able to send out 100 tweets".

However, Putin and Erdogan have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent months.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, noted on Monday it is now up to Erdogan to decide whether Turkey's relations with the European Union will improve.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that "Turkey is in no position to give other countries lessons in democracy when the (Kurdish) opposition leader has been in jail for a long time".