Wednesday 18 July 2018

Erdogan proclaimed winner of Turkey election that brings him sweeping new powers

Mr Erdogan said Turkey “will look at its future with so much more trust”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is granted sweeping new powers by the election win (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is granted sweeping new powers by the election win (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

By Associated Press Reporters

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey’s landmark presidential election that brings in sweeping new powers for the leader.

The country’s electoral commission confirmed he had an “absolute majority” in the poll, which ushers in a new system critics say will cement one-man rule.

The presidential and parliamentary elections, held more than a year early, complete Nato-member Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary system of government to a presidential one.

“This election’s victor is democracy, this election’s victory is national will,” Mr Erdogan told a cheering crowd outside his party headquarters in Ankara early Monday, adding that Turkey “will look at its future with so much more trust than it did this morning”.

Speaking early on Monday, Supreme Election Council head Sadi Guven said 97.7% of votes had been counted and declared Mr Erdogan the winner.

Mr Guven said that based on unofficial results, five parties passed the threshold of 10% of votes required for parties to enter parliament.

Cheering supporters of Mr Erdogan waving Turkish flags gathered outside the president’s official residence in Istanbul, chanting: “Here’s the president, here’s the commander.”

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.

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Mr Erdogan claimed victory on Sunday (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

Unofficial results from Anadolu showed the party coming in third with 11.5% of the legislative vote — surpassing the 10% threshold needed to enter parliament.

The HDP’s performance was a particular success since presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, eight more of its lawmakers and thousands of party members campaigned from jails and prisons.

HDP says more than 350 of its election workers have been detained since April 28.

The imprisoned Demirtas, who has been jailed pending trial on terrorism-related charges he has called trumped-up and politically motivated, was in third place in the presidential race with 8.3% of the vote, according to Anadolu.

Mr Erdogan insisted the expanded powers of the Turkish presidency will bring prosperity and stability to the country, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016.

A state of emergency imposed after the coup remains in place.

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Mr Erdogan’s win consolidates his grip on power (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Some 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 civil servants have been fired under the emergency, which opposition lawmakers say Mr Erdogan has used to stifle dissent.

The new system of government abolished the office of prime minister and empowers the president to take over an executive branch and form the government.

He will appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.

The Turkish Parliament will legislate and have the right to ratify or reject the budget.

With Mr Erdogan remaining at the helm of his party, a loyal parliamentary majority could reduce checks and balances on his power unless the opposition can wield an effective challenge.

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Large crowds of opposition supporters gathered in Istanbul on Saturday (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The president’s critics have warned that Mr Erdogan’s re-election would cement his already firm grip on power and embolden a leader they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies.

Mr Erdogan’s apparent win comes at a critical time for Turkey.

He recently has led a high-stakes foreign affairs gamble, cosying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin with pledges to install a Russian missile defence system in the Nato-member country.

Muharrem Ince said the results carried on Anadolu misrepresented the official vote count by the country’s electoral board.

The main opposition party that nominated him for the presidency, the CHP, said it was waiting for an official announcement from the country’s electoral board.

Mr Erdogan also declared victory for the People’s Alliance, an electoral coalition between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the small Nationalist Movement Party, saying they had secured a “parliamentary majority” in the 600-member assembly.

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Mr Erdogan visited the UK in May (PA)

The unofficial results for the parliamentary election showed Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, losing its majority, with 293 seats in the 600-seat legislature.

However, the small nationalist party the AKP allied with garnered 49 seats.

“Even though we could not reach out goal in parliament, God willing we will be working to solve that with all our efforts in the People’s Alliance,” Mr Erdogan said.

The president, who has never lost an election and has been in power since 2003, initially as prime minister, had faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before.

Opposition candidates had vowed to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances and have decried what they call Mr Erdogan’s “one-man rule”.

Press Association

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