Erdogan wins 1st term as president ‘under new system’

Erdogan wins 1st term as president ‘under new system’
Incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the majority of votes, the head of the electoral board said. This would mark the second consecutive term for Erdogan, but the first one under “a new system.”

With over 97.2 percent of votes counted, the head of Turkey's High Electoral Board (YSK) says Erdogan has secured more than 50 percent of the votes needed for the victory.

In the parliamentary election, his AK Party is also in first place with over 45 percent. The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) will also enter the parliament after passing the 10 percent threshold, according the board's head, Sadi Guven. Turnout was at 87 percent for both polls, preliminary data shows.

Erdogan’s closest competitor, Muharrem Ince, has secured over 29 percent of the vote. His Republican People’s Party (CHP) placed second with nearly 21 percent.

"The Turkish people have elected Erdogan as Turkey's first president/executive president under the new system,” Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said.

While delivering a statement on his own, Erdogan also said that the preliminary results clearly indicated his victory, as over 95 percent of votes were counted. He called for leaving aside the “tensions" of the election period and promised there will be no back paddling on the “success” he achieved. The Turkish opposition, meanwhile, claimed that there will likely be a second round of elections.

Today’s polls are the first since Turkey switched to a presidential system of governance after the April 2017 constitutional referendum. The plebiscite effectively split Turkish society in half, as the amendment package passed by a close margin, securing 52 percent of the vote.

The victory allows Erdogan to further consolidate political power and implement the constitutional reforms. 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. The post of the prime minister is also set to be abolished.

Meanwhile, the Turkish lira surged against the US dollar on the wave of reports Erdogan has won the election. The lira, which had lost some 20 percent in value against the dollar this year, was trading at 4.54 to the dollar, local media reported.

The Turkish opposition, however, sees such changes as a power grab, which effectively destroys the country’s century-old parliamentary democracy. Erdogan’s closest competitor, Ince, vowed that he would lift the state of emergency within 48 hours if elected president and reverse all the constitutional reforms afterward.

Ince’s CHP party has later accused the government-run Anadolu news agency of misinterpreting the vote count. The party spokesman Bulent Tezcan said CHP’s tally had Erdogan’s vote for the presidency at around 48 percent, with the figure being far lower than the agency’s reporting at the time, according to Hurriyet.

Erdogan counters that view, saying “Turkey is staging a democratic revolution.” 

“With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilizations.”

Drastic changes in Turkey’s political system followed a botched coup attempt in July 2016. Erdogan accused his late ally and now nemesis, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the coup. The cleric has firmly rejected the accusations.

Following the failed coup, Turkey has been under a state of emergency for nearly two years and has seen a widespread crackdown on alleged supporters of Gulen. Around 160,000 people have been detained, and thousands of public servants and soldiers have been fired.

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