Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party claimed victory in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary polls on Sunday, overcoming the biggest electoral challenge to their rule in a decade and a half, Reuters reports.
“Our people have given us the job of carrying out the presidential and executive posts,” Erdogan said in a short national address as votes were still being counted.
“I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure,” he added, clearly aiming to pre-empt opposition complaints of foul play.
The main opposition party did not immediately concede defeat. But after initially saying Erdogan would fall well short of a first-round victory, it said it will continue its democratic struggle “whatever the result”.
Erdogan’s victory paves the way for another five-year term for the 64-year-old leader, who is very popular but is also the most divisive politician in modern Turkish history.
Under the new constitution, he could serve a further term from 2023, taking him to 2028, Reuters noted.
Critics say the election victory will further erode democracy and entrench one-man rule in the country.
An unexpectedly strong showing by the AK Party’s alliance partner, the nationalist MHP, could translate into the stable parliamentary majority that Erdogan seeks in order to govern freely.
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.
With 99 percent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 52.5 percent, well ahead of Ince’s 31 percent, broadcasters said.
The opposition raised doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the figures released by state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of the official vote tally.
But an opposition platform collating its own vote tally from monitors based at polling stations around the country broadly confirmed the Anadolu figures.
Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations.
In Sunday’s parliamentary contest, the Islamist-rooted AK Party won 42 percent and its MHP ally 11 percent, based on 99 percent of votes counted.
Erdogan argues that his new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation’s economic problems and crush Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
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