ISTANBUL. – Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the country’s key presidential vote, electoral officials have said, in a result that will allow him to keep his seat with increased powers and become Turkey’s first executive president.
With 99.2 percent of ballots counted, Erdogan received on Sunday more than half the votes required to secure an outright victory, Sadi Guven, the head of the Supreme Election Committee (YSK), told reporters in the capital, Ankara.
Earlier, state-run Anadolu news agency had reported that Erdogan’s share of the vote stood at 52.5 percent.
“Our democracy has won, the people’s will has won, Turkey has won,” Erdogan told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in the capital, Ankara, thanking the Turkish citizens who cast their ballots in an election that saw a record turnout of 87 percent.
The 64-year-old also declared victory for the People’s Alliance, a bloc between his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), saying they had won a parliamentary majority in the legislative elections, also held on Sunday.
Before heading to Ankara, Erdogan, who has governed Turkey for more than 15 years as prime minister and president, had also addressed a crowd of cheering, flag-waving supporters from the top of a bus in the country’s largest city of Istanbul.
“I thank God for showing us this beautiful day,” Ahmet Dindarol, 35, told Al Jazeera, as he joined in the celebrations in front of the AK Party headquarters in Istanbul.
“We elected Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the first executive president of Turkey. We prayed so much for him,” he added.
“Things will get better from now on. There will be less bureaucracy and more investments. The foreign powers who are playing games on Turkey’s economy got their response,” he said.
Erdogan’s closest rival, Muharrem Ince, of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), received 30.6 percent of the votes, according to Anadolu.
He was followed by Selahattin Demirtas, of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP), at 8.4 percent and debutante right-wing IYI (Good) Party’s Meral Aksener, at 7.3 percent.
At a press briefing yesterday, Ince conceded defeat, however, called the elections “unjust” and the executive presidential system a dangerous “one-man rule”.
“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 vowed to “continue our fight until Turkey is a Turkey for everyone”, expressing alarm over the powers Erdogan assumes under the new system which he described as “a one-man regime”.
All three major opposition parties accused Anadolu of manipulating the results and releasing them selectively, a claim dismissed by the government.
“I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure,” Erdogan said in his speech.
More than 56 million voters were eligible to cast their ballots in the elections, which were brought forward by more than 18 months by the AK Party-controlled parliament in April. – Al Jazeera