Published: Tue, June 26, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday declared victory in a tightly-contested presidential election, extending his 15-year grip on power in the face of a revitalised opposition.

The CHP, the single largest opposition party and the main force in the "Nation's Alliance", launched a social media campaign claiming Syrian refugees are forcing up the rent prices, stealing the jobs of and, perhaps most sinister, threatening the security of Turks (eliding Syrian refugees with ISIS (Daesh) is not uncommon).

Sunday's vote may usher in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum.

Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT and were due to close at 1400 GMT, with the first results expected late in the evening.

"I hope nobody will damage democracy by casting a shadow on this election and its results to hide their failure".

Erdogan, 64, the most popular - yet divisive - leader in modern Turkish history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union.

"It is out of the question for us to turn back from where we've brought our country in terms of democracy and the economy", Erdogan said on Sunday night.

His supporters say only Erdogan can guarantee Turkey's economic and political stability in hard times.

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The HDP's presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, has waged his campaign from a prison near the Greek border as he awaits trial on terrorism-related charges, which he denies.

The head of Turkey's electoral commission said authorities had taken action following reports of irregularities at voting stations in southeastern Turkey.

The men agreed that their children were too young to "truly remember" the bad days before Mr Erdogan, which is why the younger generation are supporters of the Kurdish HDP.

The presidential vote and a parliamentary election, both held more than a year early, completed NATO-member Turkey's transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, a process started with a voter referendum last year. From a modest background himself, he presided over an infrastructure boom that modernized Turkey and lifted many out of poverty while also raising Islam's profile, for instance by lifting a ban on Islamic headscarves in schools and public offices.

The victor of Sunday's presidential contest will acquire sweeping new executive powers under a constitutional overhaul backed by Erdogan and endorsed past year by a narrow majority of Turks in a referendum.

Addressing a rally in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people, Ince promised to reverse what he and opposition parties see as a swing towards authoritarian rule under Erdogan in the country of 81 million people.

He is now leading in the polls with 56 percent of the vote. "Fear will continue to reign", he told at least a million people gathered in Istanbul. But after a failed coup attempt in 2016, the illiberal trend accelerated. "We will increase our country's global reputation", he added.

And Bülent Tezcan, the vice-chairman of the Republican People's Party, which opposes Erdoğan, said the president's celebration was premature. The post of the prime minister is also set to be abolished.

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