Turkey's Erdogan snares revamped powers as rival concedes defeat
A night of triumph for Erdogan saw the man who has dominated Turkey for the last 15 years declared winner of Sunday's presidential poll.
ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today celebrated winning sweeping new powers in a decisive election victory, as his main rival accepted the outcome despite complaints over an unequal campaign that alarmed the EU.
A night of triumph for Erdogan saw the man who has dominated Turkey for the last 15 years declared winner of Sunday's presidential poll without needing a second round and lead his ruling party-led alliance to an overall majority in parliament.
Erdogan vowed to "rapidly" implement the new presidential system agreed in an April 2017 referendum that opponents fear will give him autocratic powers and keep him in office for two five year mandates to 2028.
The new system creates a vertical of power with Erdogan at the top, giving him the power to appoint cabinet ministers and dispensing with the office of prime minister.
The president, 64, declared victory in Istanbul before returning to Ankara to deliver a triumphant speech at 3:00 am (local time) to tens of thousands of supporters from the balcony of the headquarters of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"Turkey has given a lesson in democracy to the entire world," he added, pointing to a turnout of 88 per cent.
His main rival Muharrem Ince of the Republican People's Party (CHP), who had challenged Erdogan with an energetic campaign, broke an uncharacteristic overnight silence to declare today to concede defeat.
"I accept these election results," Ince said, adding Erdogan should "represent 80 million" and be "president for us all".
But Ince, who had faced limited airtime on television in the campaign and a near boycott by state media, said the run-up to the election had been unfair.
"This election was unjust until the results were announced," he told a news conference at CHP headquarters after ordering out crews from state-run TRT over their campaign coverage.
Ince expressed alarm over the powers Erdogan assumes under the new system which he described as "a one-man regime.
" International observers said voters enjoyed a "genuine choice" but decried the lack of "equal" conditions for candidates to campaign.
The team led by the OSCE said polling day procedures were "generally followed", but pointed to issues over counting and tabulation.
The EU echoed the language of the OSCE in a notably chilly statement that did not congratulate Erdogan or mention him by name but asserted that campaign conditions were "not equal.
" The statement, issued by the bloc's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, warned the new presidential system has "far reaching implications for Turkish democracy".
By contrast, congratulations for Erdogan flooded in from Turkey's partners in the Islamic world and allies who also have tetchy relations with the West, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin who praised Erdogan's "great political authority".
The Kremlin statement even noted the "mass support of the course conducted under his leadership".
Others congratulating Erdogan included Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Hamas chief Ismail Haniya.
Erdogan has transformed Turkey first as prime minister from 2003 to 2014 and then as president, allowing Islam a greater role in public life and giving the country a much more assertive profile on the international stage.
But critics accuse him of ruling with an iron grip, especially after the July 2016 failed coup which was followed by a state of emergency that has seen tens of thousands of people arrested.
The outcome relieved investors who had feared a prolonged period of uncertainty if the election went to a second round, but the Turkish lira pared initial sharp gains against the dollar.
According to results published by the state news agency Anadolu, Erdogan won 52.
6 per cent of the vote, with Ince trailing with 30.6 per cent.
The results mean Erdogan, who enjoys sky-high support in parts of the Anatolian heart of the country, improved on his 51.8 per cent score from 2014.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party candidate Selahattin Demirtas came third with 8.
4 per cent, a performance all the more remarkable given he has been jailed on charges of links to Kurdish militants since November 2016.
With Turkey holding parliamentary and presidential elections on the same day for the first time, Erdogan was also able to enjoy an overall majority in parliament with the help of his allies from the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The AKP won 295 seats in the 600 MP chamber but the MHP did far better than expected, winning 49 seats and giving their alliance a clear majority, according to results published by Anadolu.
The HDP easily broke through the 10 per cent minimum vote threshold to pick up 67 seats, sparking wild celebrations in its Kurdish-majority stronghold of Diyarbakir.
In a tweet, Demirtas hailed a "great victory" despite suffering "the biggest injustice of the campaign".