Erdogan set to strengthen grip on power after Turkish election win

Marcus Newton
June 26, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed in a phone conversation on Monday their mutual interest in boosting partnership ties between the two countries, the Kremlin press service said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is preparing to extend his rule and take on new powers after his victory in elections on Sunday.

Speaking early Monday, Supreme Election Council head Sadi Guven said 97.7 percent of votes had been counted and declared Erdogan the victor, according to the Associated Press.

Erdogan's main presidential rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) urged election monitors to remain at polling stations to help ensure against possible election fraud, as final results came in from large cities where his party typically performs strongly. The opposition had complained of voter suppression ahead of the vote, as ballot boxes in Kurdish areas had been moved and dozens of HDP officials had been arrested.

But he said that there was no significant difference between official results and his party's figures, and therefore he would accept the outcome. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov Supporters of Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, Sunday, June 24, 2018.

Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, has faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before. It won 23 percent in the new parliament and the pro-Kurdish HDP almost 12 percent, above the 10 percent threshold needed to win seats. "I remember when we had to wait five days to get bread", said 56-year-old Tuncay Tek, who said he voted for Erdogan and the AKP on Sunday.

The presidential and parliamentary elections, held more than a year early on Sunday, complete NATO-member Turkey's transition from a parliamentary system of government to a presidential one in a process started with a referendum last year. Erdogan, who argued for years in favor of an executive presidency in order to avoid coalitions, is now forced into a coalition with an ultranationalist partner that is likely to extract significant concessions from him.

Ince also complained that it was an unfair election but accepted Erdogan's victory during a news conference Monday.

In separate parliamentary elections, the governing alliance led by Mr Erdogan's AK Party (AKP) secured a majority, with 53% and about 343 seats.

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The vote will complete Turkey's transition from a parliamentary to a new executive presidential system, a move approved in a referendum previous year.

Mr Erdogan has presided over a strong economy and built up a solid support base by investing in healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Erdogan counters that view, saying "Turkey is staging a democratic revolution".

The victory allows Erdogan to further consolidate political power and implement the constitutional reforms. Turkey's president will now hold extensive executive powers, and parliament will be much less significant.

Ince said he had garnered 15 million votes and would work to increase them to 30 million.

Mr Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations.

The restrictive legal framework and powers granted under the ongoing state of emergency restricted the freedoms of assembly and expression, including in the media, said the observers.

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.

In a message to Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of "a stable and pluralistic Turkey in which democratic participation and the protection of the rule of law is strengthened", her office said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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