Erdogan leads in Turkey’s presidential election - preliminary results

GETTYErdogan and his opposition Muharrem Ince

GETTYErdogan and his opposition Muharrem Ince

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan handily won re-election Sunday, cementing his hold on power with huge new authority, but his historic victory was tempered after his ruling party was deprived of a majority in a concurrent parliamentary vote and the opposition refusal to concede.

However the opposition raised doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the figures released by state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of the official vote tally.

Official results are to be announced in a few days.

Erdogan, a master campaigner who has ruled Turkey for 15 years, faced his most competitive election yet as opposition parties fielded five candidates who ran vigorous campaigns accusing him of seeking one-man rule and reckless management of the economy.

Audrey Glover who headed the OSCE delegation in Turkey, said unbalanced media coverage in favour of Mr Erdogan and his ruling party resulted in voters not being able to "get informed choice".

"The results show that the AK Party-MHP alliance will have to continue for Erdogan to carry out his executive presidency comfortably", he said. Supporters of Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, Sunday, June 24, 2018.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election triumph, saying the result pointed to the Turkish leader's "great political authority" and mass support.

"We have received the message that has been given to us in the ballot boxes".

He also praised the high turnout in the vote.

Its partner party-the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) secured around 11 percent of the vote and 50 seats.

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The voting marked the first time Turkish voters cast their ballots in simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, in line with the constitutional changes approved in a referendum previous year that will transform the country's parliamentary system to an executive presidential one.

In April 2017, 51 percent of Turkish voters endorsed constitutional changes backed by Erdogan, which grant new executive powers to the president and scrap the post of prime minister.

With 96 per cent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 53 per cent, comfortably ahead of Ince on 31 per cent, broadcasters said.

Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule.

"Erdogan will feel empowered with his renewed mandate and also the absence of mandate obtained by the newly constituted opposition alliance". But instead of voting for the opposition, Turkey's conservatives seem to have decided that Erdogan is their best bet to overcome an impending economic crisis.

The lira is down some 19 percent since January and investors fear Erdogan, a self-declared "enemy of interest rates", may pressure the central bank to cut recently hiked borrowing costs to stimulate economic growth despite double-digit inflation.

The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent. A state of emergency remains in place following a failed coup against Erdogan in July 2016 that resulted in the deaths of 240 people.

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

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.

President Hussain also expressed the hope that Turkey would continue on the path of progress and prosperity under the leadership of president Erdogan.

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