Millennium Post

Erdogan wins, his way

So what if an international election watchdog has criticised the conditions under which the Turkish election was contested. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party won hands down. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that Erdogan had benefited from excessive media coverage and also raised questions about the transparency of the vote. Erdogan, who won a new five-year term as President on the first round of voting, re-enters office with plenty of new powers at his disposal, following a narrowly-won constitutional referendum last year. Under the new system, the office of the Prime Minister stands abolished, the Parliament's powers have been curtailed and the President is accorded with wide-ranging executive authority. Opposition leader Muharrem Ince conceded defeat and warned that Turkey would suffer from "one-man rule" at the hands of Erdogan. Erdogan claimed victory even before the electoral authorities had confirmed the result. The election commission later confirmed Erdogan the winner and also said that Erdogan's Justice and Development Party and its allied Nationalist Movement Party had retained their parliamentary majority. While the commission gave no figures of the victory, state-run news agency Anadolu put Erdogan on 52.5 per cent, Ince on 31 per cent, with more than 96 per cent of the votes counted. The OSCE said that the vote lacked "conditions for contestants to compete on an equal basis." "The incumbent President and his party enjoyed a notable advantage, also reflected in excessive coverage by government-funded, public and private media," OSCE special coordinator Ignacio Sanchez Amor said. In its report, the OSCE also raised concerns about transparency in the vote count, pointing to changes in the law that replaced political party representatives with civil servants as chairs of ballot box committees. It also pointed to the relocation of polling stations on security grounds as a concern, an issue that opposition parties said were attempts to make voting more difficult in their strongholds. The results were a blow to Ince and his Republican People's Party, known as the CHP. Ince ran a spirited campaign that threatened to force Erdogan into a damaging runoff and deny his party control of the Parliament. Conceding defeat, Ince warned that constitutional changes ushered in by Erdogan, earlier in the year, represented a threat to the country's democracy. Having defeated the twin threats of a reinvigorated opposition and a weakened currency, Erdogan addressed supporters in the capital, Ankara, saying that the winner of the election was democracy, the national will and the nation itself. "The winner of this election is each and every individual of my 81 million citizens," he said. Adding, "Turkey has decided to take the side of growth, development, investment, enrichment and a reputable, honourable and influential country in all areas in the world."

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