Turkey’s Erdogan to assume sweeping powers after victory in presidential election

Tuesday, 26 Jun, 2018

Supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate in Istanbul after unofficial results show the incumbent with a commanding lead.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey's landmark election, the country's electoral commission said, ushering in a new system granting the president sweeping new powers which critics say will cement what they call a one-man rule.

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.

Addressing supporters from the Justice and Development Party or AKP headquarters in the nation's capital hours after his victory, Erdogan claimed Turkey's 81 million residents were the winners of the hotly contested election, state run media Anadolu reported.

Meanwhile, Muharrem Ince, the candidate for the Republican People's Party (CHP), the county's main opposition party, accused official news agency Anadolu of manipulating results. The YSK is to announce final results on Friday. 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.

Turnout in the presidential election was nearly 88 percent, according to the figures published by Anadolu.

"It's now time to leave all political debates of the election campaign behind and to get focused on the future", Erdogan added. The lira has fallen more than 18% this year against the U.S. dollar as investors watched Erdogan attack the central bank's independence, suggesting that high interest rates stoke, rather than tame, inflation.

The HDP easily broke through the 10 percent minimum vote threshold to pick up 67 seats, sparking wild celebrations in its Kurdish-majority stronghold of Diyarbakir.

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Having defeated the twin threats of a reinvigorated opposition and a weakened currency, Erdogan addressed cheering supporters in the capital, Ankara, saying the victor of the election was democracy, the national will and the nation itself.

If confirmed, the results will mean Erdogan, who still enjoys sky-high support in parts of the Anatolian heart of the country, even improved on his score from the 2014 presidential elections of 51.8%.

Turkey's High Electoral Board declared Erdogan, 64, the victor of Sunday's polls, which usher in a new executive presidential system that was approved in a referendum a year ago.

While Erdogan's victory is likely to be positive for the lira in the short term, Nora Neutrvoom, an economist at ABN Amro told Euronews that the "Turkish economy will face a severe slowdown". This brings the combined share of parliamentary power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and MHP to 53.6% - majority needed by Erdogan, who failed to win an outright majority in parliament.

Civil society groups and opposition parties said they had half a million volunteer observers manning polling stations, but allegations of fraud emerged as early as midday on Sunday. All we want is a fair competition.

The CHP said it had recorded violations in particular in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, although Erdogan insisted, after voting himself, there was no major problem.

Following the failed coup, Turkey has been under a state of emergency for almost two years and has seen a widespread crackdown on alleged supporters of Gulen.

The European Union and United States were keeping a close eye on the poll and trans-Atlantic security body the OSCE was due to deliver its verdict on the election later in the afternoon.