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Victorious Recep Erdogan extends 12-year grip on power

Victorious Recep Erdogan extends 12-year grip on power
Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan swept to a landslide victory in Turkey’s first direct presidential election, extending his 12-year grip on power and securing a mandate to fulfill his pledge of creating a ‘new Turkey.’

The country’s election board announced Erdogan had won according to preliminary results, obtaining enough votes to avoid a runoff. With 99% of the ballots counted, the premier had secured 52%, far ahead of his nearest opponent Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a diplomat with a low profile in domestic politics who garnered 38% of the vote, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

In a victory speech to thousands of flag-waving supporters at his governing Justice and Development Party’s Ankara headquarters, Erdogan called for societal reconciliation after a brutal campaign that was widely seen as hardening divisions across the country. But he also warned his political enemies against undermining Turkish security.

Without a doubt, new Turkey, great Turkey, leading Turkey has won on Monday. We are closing the doors on one era, and we are now taking our first step to a new phase,’ Erdogan said. ‘We will face down whoever threatens our national security.’

Sunday’s result—Erdogan’s ninth consecutive election victory including referendums and municipal polls—cements his position as Turkey’s most powerful ruler since the Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was president in the 1930s. Raised in Istanbul’s impoverished dockside district of Kasimpasa, Erdogan will now move into Ataturk’s Cankaya palace on a hilltop overlooking central Ankara.

Erdogan’s pledge to beef up the largely ceremonial presidency could reconfigure political power in Turkey—a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and key Washington ally in a region beset by conflict. The premier’s supporters argue that the shift to direct elections will justify a more active role for the country’s head of state with an electoral mandate. Until recently Turkey’s parliament elected the president.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party warned Sunday that Erdogan’s victory would herald the creation of a more authoritarian system centered around his personal appeal. ‘The risk is that the whole system of checks-and-balance will be further weakened as he tries to experiment with this executive presidency, running state affairs from the palace and bringing everything to uncertain territory,’ said Wolfango Piccoli, managing director at Teneo Intelligence, a New York-based political risk consultancy.
Agencies

Agencies

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