Turkey's Erdogan fetes poll triumph, opposition concedes defeat


Turks began voting Sunday for a new president and parliament in elections that pose the biggest challenge to Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.

Mr Erdogan was declared Turkey's president by electoral board chairman Sadi Guven, who said he won a majority based on 99.9 percent of counted votes.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the CHP-led alliance received 34 percent of the parliamentary vote, while Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost its majority.

With almost 90 per cent of the country's ballot boxes counted, according to Anadolu, Erdogan was at 53.3 per cent of the vote, with his main rival Muharrem Ince at 30.4 per cent. Not only does the opposition question the election results themselves, but there's also the small matter of a number of opposition members being imprisoned in the lead-up to the election.

The figures could yet change as final ballot boxes are opened.

Unluhisarcikli described the MHP's success as "the single most important outcome of the election" which would affect both domestic and foreign policy.

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.

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It is in this Anatolian heartland that Erdogan still inspires impassioned support from people who share his Islamic conservative beliefs and credit him for bringing Turkey to greater economic prosperity and respect.

The HDP easily broke through the 10 percent minimum vote threshold to pick up 67 seats, sparking wild celebrations in its Kurdish-majority stronghold of Diyarbakir.

The former physics teacher, who led a robust campaign against Erdogan, called on him to end his divisive policies.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic congratulated Erdogan, saying that Belgrade "will continue to be a reliable partner of Turkey and of its role as a leader ready to defend the values and principles in these more than hard times".

Erdogan's closest rival, Muharrem Ince, who complained of unfair elections, has yet to formally concede defeat.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters at the AKP headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on June 25.

The vote will complete Turkey's transition from a parliamentary to a new executive presidential system, a move approved in a referendum past year.

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The President narrowly won a referendum previous year to transform the country's parliamentary system to a powerful executive presidency, in what his critics called a blatant power grab. They have said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raise fears about the vote's fairness.

"This is no longer a Turkey we want".

The CHP said it had recorded violations in particular in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa. There are several problems to face: the decline of the Turkish lira, a massive 12 per cent rate of inflation and the perception that Erdogan is curtailing the central bank's independence.

The election followed a short but intense campaign that took place under the emergency rule, still in effect after the July 2016 coup attempt.

In a sign of the importance of the partnership, Putin went to Turkey during his first trip overseas after winning a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls. More than 110,000 government workers have also been dismissed under a state of emergency after the coup.

As Turkey's democracy backslides, its European Union accession seems ever further away; however, Turkey will not want to lose European Union investment and trade and the West will not sacrifice the geostrategic importance of the country so relations, although perhaps strained, seem set to continue.

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