Turkey's Autocratic President, Praised by Trump, Claims Election Victory

25 June, 2018, 09:23 | Author: Gerard Cortez
  • President Erdogan speaks at an election rally on 17 June

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan handily won re-election Sunday, cementing his hold on power with enormous new authority, but his historic victory was tempered after his ruling party was deprived of a majority in a concurrent parliamentary vote and the opposition refusal to concede.

A Turkish government spokesman has announced that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the country's presidential election.

In the parliamentary election, the AK Party leads with 54 percent of the vote, with 8.7 percent of the ballot boxes opened.

Muharrem Ince and his Republican People's Party (CHP), the main Turkish opposition in the election, said that around half the ballot boxes had yet to be counted, calling on party monitors to remain with the ballot boxes and keep watching.

Polling stations were due to close at 1400 GMT, with the first results expected late in the evening.

If the HDP manages to get into parliament, it could threaten Erdogan's AKP majority, meaning it will need support from another party to approve legislation. In a milestone, a pro-Kurdish group, HDP, gained the 10 percent of the vote needed for representation in Parliament.

"This election's victor is democracy, this election's victory is national will", 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".

Ince also repeated his accusation - made by other opposition politicians too - of political bias by Turkey's state media, which has given Erdogan and the AK Party heavy coverage while often neglecting to broadcast opposition rallies.

The president's critics have warned that Erdogan's re-election would cement his already firm grip on power and embolden a leader they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies. Eight parties are bidding for 600 parliamentary seats. One party supporter, Nejdet Erke, said he had been "waiting for this emotion" since the morning.

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Turkey remains under a state of emergency imposed in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016.

A count of nearly over 95 percent for the parliamentary election also showed that Erdogan's AKP - along with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies - were well ahead and set for an overall majority.

He had 7.4 percent, based on more than 80 percent of votes cast.

Erdogan's supporters said only he could ensure political and economic stability in Turkey.

"We have taken all security precautions", said Erdogan.

Turnout at the elections hovered around an extraordinary 87% of the electorate, exceeding that of last year's referendum.

Voting already closed last week for Turkish citizens resident overseas, with just under 1.5 million out of just over 3 million registered voters casting their ballot, a turnout of just under 49 percent.

The former physics teacher, who has pledged to end what he calls Erdogan's "one-man rule", claimed the gathering attracted 5 million people, although no official estimates were available.

Kurds make up about 18 percent of Turkey's 78 million people, mostly in eastern regions, and are expected to play a key role in deciding the outcome of the parliamentary elections.

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