Tayyip Erdogan reelected Turkey's president by big margin

28 June 2018, 01:14 | Andres Norman

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims victory in dual elections as opposition urges caution on results

Critics of President Tayyip Erdogan say he has used the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security

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.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a commanding lead in his bid Sunday (this morning NZT) for a presidency with broadly expanded powers, according to partial results reported by the country's state-run news agency that showed him with more than 50 per cent of the vote - enough to avoid a runoff.

Several world leaders supportive of Erdogan, including Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called to congratulate him on his "victory", the presidency said.

The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president will be the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

In a telegram earlier Monday, Putin had "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 in the global arena". "Fear will continue to reign", Ince told at least a million people gathered in Istanbul on Saturday, urging them to put an end to Erdoğan 16-year rule.

Meanwhile, former physics teacher Ince built up a national following with lacerating attacks on Erdogan's rule, bringing up near-taboos like the AKP's past cooperation with the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 failed coup. "If Ince wins, the courts will be independent".

Presidential candidate of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Muharrem Ince holds a potato and an onion as he delivers a speech during a rally in Istanbul, on June 23, 2018.

But in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP's presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants. "In this term, we will be before our nation and make up for our shortcomings".

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Ince gained notable support ahead of the election.

"We're good", Erdogan said an hour earlier in Istanbul, though he declined to speculate on the outcome.

The president and his allies campaigned on the contrast between today's prosperous Turkey and the political and economic turmoil that preceded Erdogan's rule, pointing to GDP growth rates averaging nearly 6 percent since the AK Party came to power in 2002.

Trailing were Meral Aksener of the nationalist (Iyi) Good Party with over seven percent and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) with nearly eight percent.

If both the presidential and the parliamentary elections go against Erdogan, Turkey's politics, and possibly the country, could undergo significant change.

"Justice has been served!" said Cihan Yigici, an Erdogan supporter in the crowd.

Erdogan's AKP fell short of a parliamentary majority but a better-than-expected performance by its nationalist ally should allow the party to control the 600-seat legislature.



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