What next for Turkey after Erdogan's executive presidency win?

Thursday, 28 Jun, 2018

The outcome of the vote is the culmination of years of Erdoğan's pursuit of an executive presidency, a goal that has seen the Turkish leader ascend the highest echelons of power in the country while simultaneously crushing opponents, intimidating or co-opting dissident media outlets, and reprising a role as commander-in-chief protecting Turkey from external and internal enemies.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the incumbent president and main political actor in Turkish politics for the last 16 years, has won yet another election with a majority vote of 52%.

In April 2017, 51 percent of Turkish voters endorsed constitutional changes backed by Erdogan, which grant new executive powers to the president and scrap the post of prime minister.

The victor of Sunday's presidential election will be the first Turkish head of state to govern with expanded powers after constitutional changes were approved in April 2017.

The president, 64, declared victory in Istanbul before returning to Ankara to deliver a triumphant speech at 3.00am to tens of thousands of supporters from the balcony of the headquarters of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Turkey was portrayed as a leader and a model for the Muslim world, where Islam and liberal democracy could harmoniously co-exist.

Still, Erdogan's main challenger, Muharrem Ince, and his secular-left People's Republican Party, or CHP, urged observers to stay at the country's ballot boxes to ensure votes were counted fairly.

"I accept these election results", Ince said, adding Erdogan should "represent 80 million" and be "president for us all".

But Ince, who had faced limited airtime on television in the campaign, said the run-up to the election had been unfair. Ince on Monday said he accepted the results and would call Erdogan to congratulate him. The New York Times quoted imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas as saying: "What you go through nowadays is only a trailer of the one-man regime".

Turks will suffer. Since a 2016 coup attempt, Erdogan has operated under a state of emergency, jailing journalists, political foes and members of the military.

Speaking early on Monday, the head of the Supreme Election Council, Sadi Guven, said unofficial results showed five parties had passed the 10% election threshold required to enter parliament.

Erdogan's supporters took to the streets in Istanbul and other cities in celebration Sunday night. This would have detracted from Erdogan's image of invincibility; it also would have helped the opposition to improve the morale of its supporters and to consolidate its votes in the second round, thus increasing the possibility of defeating Erdogan.

The AKP won 293 seats in the 600 MP chamber but the MHP did far better than expected, winning 50 seats and giving their alliance a clear majority, according to the results published by Anadolu.

Global election monitors said the election allowed voters a "genuine choice" but decried the lack of "equal" conditions for candidates to campaign.

"Turkey made its choice in favour of a more determined fight against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and (Gulenists)", Erdogan said.

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

On Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had confirmed that a call was expected to take place between the two leaders while telling reporters that the US urges Turkey to "take steps to strengthen democracy and continue progress toward resolving issues in the bilateral relationship".

His secularist CHP won 23 per cent in the new parliament and the pro-Kurdish HDP almost 12 per cent, above the 10 per cent threshold needed to enter parliament.

"The fact that I was forced to campaign in detention conditions was the greatest injustice".

"We want democracy", he said.