Erdogan poised to extend power as new Turkish President

Opponents fear new role will see Prime Minister become more authoritarian

Istanbul

The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was declared the winner in his country’s first presidential election on Sunday, as voters backed his dream of a “new Turkey” that his opponents say will result in an increasingly authoritarian nation.

An unofficial vote count indicated that Mr Erdogan would claim victory in the first round, avoiding the need for a run-off ballot. He received about 52 per cent of the votes cast while his main rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, got about 38 per cent and the third candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, won just under 10 per cent.

“It is understood that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won an absolute majority of the votes,” the election commission head, Sadi Guven, said in Ankara. The official results will be announced today.

Mr Ihsanoglu conceded defeat in a brief speech in Istanbul.

Read more: The new sultan: Erdogan’s triumph makes drift towards authoritarianism more likely

“I hope that the result is beneficial for democracy in Turkey,” he said. “I congratulate the Prime Minister and wish him success.”

Victory for Mr Erdogan seals his place in history after more than a decade as Prime Minister in which Turkey has emerged as a regional economic power.

In a tea house in the working-class Istanbul district of Tophane, men watching election coverage on television praised Mr Erdogan as a pious man of the people who had boosted Turkey’s status both economically and on the international stage. “Erdogan is on the side of the underdog. He is the defender against injustice. While the Arab world was silent, he spoke out against Israel on Gaza,” said Murat, 42, a jeweller. Erdogan's main rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Erdogan's main rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

Parliament has in the past chosen the head of state but this was changed under a law pushed through by Mr Erdogan’s government. He has set his sights on serving two presidential terms, keeping him in power past 2023.

A rapturous crowd cheered and chanted “Turkey is proud of you” and “President Erdogan” as he emerged from a school where he voted with his wife and children on the Asian side of Istanbul. In his final campaign speech in the conservative stronghold of Konya on Saturday, he said the election would herald a “new Turkey” and “a strong Turkey is rising again from the ashes”.

The Prime Minister has promised to exercise the full powers granted to him by current laws, unlike predecessors who played a mainly ceremonial role. But he also plans to change the constitution to establish a fully executive presidency. The current constitution would enable him to chair cabinet meetings and appoint the premier and members of top judicial bodies including the constitutional court and supreme council of judges.

Mr Erdogan’s ruling AK Party scored a clear victory in local elections in March but he had been having the toughest year of his time in power.

He was shaken by nationwide anti-government protests last summer, and months later, Mr Erdogan and his inner circle were targeted by a corruption investigation and a power struggle with his former ally the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

He accuses Mr Gulen of seeking to overthrow him and has pledged as president to continue purging institutions such as the police and judiciary where Mr Gulen is believed to wield influence.

Despite the challenges Mr Erdogan has faced, there  was an air of resignation among many voters who oppose him.

“I am almost depressed. I worry for my country because I increasingly feel like an alien here. The Prime Minister is talking about a Turkey that I don’t recognise,” said Erkan Sonmez, 43, who works in an import-export business.

“I can no longer speak to my neighbours who vote for the AK Party – does that sound like a peaceful community to you?”

REUTERS; AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'