Turkey’s electoral commission has just confirmed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will remain Turkey’s leader.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on June 25, 2018

The election took place on 24 June 2018 under a state of emergency.

“Our people have given us the job of carrying out the presidential and executive posts,” Erdoğan, a socially conservative Islamist, said in a national address.

“With almost 90% turnout rate in the elections, Turkey has given a very good democracy lesson to all the world.

“I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure.”

An earlier report had Erdoğan well ahead of nearest rival, Muharrem Ince, who has 31% of the vote.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) led by Ince initially refused to concede defeat and has cast doubt over the fairness of the election process. Shortly before Erdoğan’s statement, CHP MPs said the AK Party was leading but only 39% of the votes had been counted.

“No one should start to cheer,” Bülent Tezcan of the CHP said in a television interview. “The presidential election is certainly going to a second round. We will count the votes right through until the morning.”

Ince had previously told supporters he would spend the night at the headquarters of Turkey’s electoral commission to ensure the votes were properly counted.

“I will protect your rights,” Ince said after voting. “Have no fear and don’t believe in demoralising reports.”

The CHP also said there had been violations of electoral process in the province of Sanliurfa, a claim denied by Erdoğan. The Turkish electoral commission said it would investigate reports of voter intimidation.

Erdoğan increases his power

For the first time, Turkish voters cast ballots for both President and parliament. The new President will rule under the enhanced powers he gained in an April 2017 referendum. That election was reportedly marred by a “government-created atmosphere of violence, intimidation and fear”.

Erdoğan’s AK Party is also set to control parliament, albeit in coalition with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which ran on a pro-Kurdish platform will likely be the second largest opposition party in the new parliament.

Erdoğan has been in power since 2002 but he faced his strongest challenge in Ince’s centre-left CHP in this election. Despite a lack of airtime on the state-controlled broadcaster, Ince was able to mobilise huge rallies in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. He promised to end the paranoia of the Erdoğan era.

“If Erdoğan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to… Fear will continue to reign. If I win, the courts will be independent,” Ince told crowds.

Critics say Erdoğan’s victory in this election will push Turkey further towards one-man rule. His rule has been described as approaching a dictatorship.

He currently has the power to issue decrees that circumvent parliament though he says he will give up this measure.

After an attempt by the military to oust him in July 2016 he shifted to a more authoritarian approach and according to the United Nations, has detained more than 160,000 opponents to his rule.