Turkey election: Erdogan consolidates power

People walk nearby a campaing banner showing Turkey’s president in the Eminonu district of Istanbul

Official results showed that Erdogan (of the nationalist AKP) won the Presidential election with 52% of the vote, followed by Social Democrat Muharram Ince (of the Social Democrats CHP), who got 31% of the vote.

Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey over 15 years as prime minister and president, later addressed a crowd of cheering, flag-waving supporters from the top of a bus in the country's largest city of Istanbul, before taking off to capital, Ankara.

Under constitutional amendments approved after a controversial 2017 referendum, Turkey is making a transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one - giving the next president expanded powers, abolishing the prime minister's post, and eliminating numerous checks and balances created to help parliament protect against the misuse of presidential powers.The changes will take effect after the elections.

Erdogan spoke of his commitment to fight terrorist organisations and "to continue the fight to make the Syrian grounds freer" and to better the country's "international reputation".

"With nearly 90% turnout rate in the elections, Turkey has given a very good democracy lesson to all the world".

Global observers criticized the election Monday, saying it took place on "uneven playing field" tilted in favour of Erdogan and his ruling party, which "enjoyed undue advantage, including in media".

Mr Erdogan said the governing alliance of his AK Party had also secured a majority in parliament.

Erdogan flew in triumph to Ankara where he held his traditional victory speech from the balcony of AKP headquarters at 3:00 am (midnight GMT). On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Erdogan on his victory.

"With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations".

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Should he win the June 24 elections, Erdogan will be Turkey's first leader under the presidential system.

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Electoral board chairman Sadi Guven said with more than 97 per cent of votes counted, Erdogan had an absolute majority.

Now Erdogan has a five-year mandate with nearly absolute powers although the country appears to be divided in two.

The BBC says that in winning the election, Erdogan will "assume major new powers under Turkey's new constitution".

And although Erdogan dominated airtime on a pliant mainstream media, Ince finished his campaign with eye-catching mass rallies, including a mega meeting in Istanbul on Saturday, that gave hope to the opposition.

Erdogan has declared himself an "enemy of interest rates", raising fears he will pressure the central bank to cut borrowing costs after the election despite double-digit inflation.

The main opposition CHP will have 146 seats, the pro-Kurdish HDP 67 and the breakaway nationalist Iyi Party 44. One of his foes, Selahattin Demirtas, of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, had to campaign while behind bars. Mr. Erdoğan has said he will soon lift the state of emergency.

Erdogan insisted the expanded powers of the Turkish presidency will bring prosperity and stability to the country, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016.

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