Erdogan Wins, Stays in Power As Turkey's President

Leroy Wright
June 25, 2018

Turks began voting today in dual parliamentary and presidential polls seen as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's toughest election test, with the opposition revitalised and his popularity at risk from growing economic troubles.

Turkey's autocratic president is claiming victory in the country's contentious election on Sunday.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the long-running leader of Turkey who has ruled in increasingly authoritarian fashion over the last several years, declared victory in presidential elections held on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters in front of the High Electoral Board (YSK), Ince warned members of the YSK to "do your job the right way" and not leave their stations without signed results.

Turkish voters for the first time cast ballots for both president and parliament in the snap polls, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to extend his 15-year grip on power.

The political opposition is disputing the official results, saying more votes have to be counted, and has accused the country's election commission of manipulating results.

"The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty", Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul after a near-complete count carried by the state-run news agency gave him the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

The contest pits a government-led coalition against an alliance of opposition parties.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular but also the most divisive politician in modern Turkey, added that Turkish forces would continue to "liberate Syrian lands" so that the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey could return home safely.

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The ballots will transform the country from a parliamentary democracy into an executive presidency - something approved in a referendum past year.

In a tweet earlier in the evening, he said only 37 percent of ballot boxes had actually been counted, as opposed to the more than almost 90 percent Anadolu was reporting at the time.

"The AK Party got around 42 percent of the votes, while Erdogan got around 52 percent".

"I hope for the best for our nation", Ince said on June 24 as he voted in his native port town of Yalova, south of Istanbul. "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilizations".

Ince, head of the Republican People's Party and the main opposition presidential candidate, urged monitors and citizens to protect ballot boxes on voting day against fraud. In the parliamentary election, his AK Party is also in first place with over 47 percent.

Another person who could siphon of votes from Erdogan is the only female candidate, Meral Aksener of the lyi, the Good Party.

Opposition officials cried foul as soon as results began coming in, with the state-run Anadolu Agency announcing preliminary results more than two hours earlier than expected and opening with a massive lead for President Erdoğan and his party's alliance in parliament.

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.

Turkey has been under emergency rule - which restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees - for almost two years since an attempted coup in 2016. The powers in question include the abilities to pick cabinet ministers from outside of the legislature, pass laws by decree, single-handedly declare a state of emergency and launch extraordinary elections.

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