Erdogan Tightens His Grip On Turkey In Early Elections

Erdogan Tightens His Grip On Turkey In Early Elections

Erdogan Tightens His Grip On Turkey In Early Elections

But an AK Party official said the party expected Erdogan to win more than the required 50 percent to avoid a second-round runoff.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday celebrated winning five more years in office with sweeping new powers after a decisive election victory, as Turkey's opposition raised bitter questions over the conduct of the polls.

Early Monday morning the Supreme Election Council announced Erdogan received the absolute majority in the presidential election with 53 percent of votes after 97.7 percent of ballots had been counted.

Results released by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency based on data from the YSK also gave Erdogan a clear majority of votes.

But both these goals are in doubt in the face of an energetic campaign by the secular Republican People s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem Ince, who has rivalled Erdogan s charisma and crowd-pulling on the campaign trail, and a strong opposition alliance in the legislative polls. He also urged YSK members to "do your job the right way", adding he believed the results would be "very good". I call onto all polling clerks not to get frustrated and not to leave the ballot boxes.

There has been less tension between Turkey and the United States since a preliminary agreement was reached on American military support for the People's Protection Units in Manbij at the start of the month.

As he cast his vote, Erdogan said the changes marked a "democratic revolution", although his opponents regard the most recent phase of his rule differently.

But Ince, who had faced limited airtime on television in the campaign, said the run-up to the election had been unfair.

Ignacio Sanchez Amor, head of the OSCE short-term observer mission in Turkey, said, "The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections".

She was referring to Erdogan´s victory speech in which he said the nearly 90 percent voter turnout "taught the entire world a democracy lesson".

The vote ushers in a powerful executive presidency backed by a narrow majority in a 2017 referendum. The report said they were not accredited to monitor the vote. It remains to be seen whether Erdoğan will take this as an opportunity to address the long list of challenges facing Turkey and reconstruct its democracy and economy, and regain the respect that he once enjoyed internationally.

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.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, also passed the 10 percent threshold to enter parliament, despite the imprisonment of its leader and presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas. That, coupled with high inflation rates and fears that the central bank's independence will be further reduced, has left global investors uneasy after Erdogan's victory.

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.

In a sign of the importance of the partnership, Putin went to Turkey during his first trip overseas after winning a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls.

He brought forward the elections from November 2019, but he reckoned without Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralized and divided opposition.

He is loved by millions of working class Turkish citizens for delivering years of stellar economic growth and overseeing the construction of roads, bridges, airports, hospitals and schools.

Ince, 54, had condemned what he says are the excesses of the security state under Erdogan and pledged to end emergency rule if elected.

As Turkey's democracy backslides, its European Union accession seems ever further away; however, Turkey will not want to lose European Union investment and trade and the West will not sacrifice the geostrategic importance of the country so relations, although perhaps strained, seem set to continue.

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