Erdogan claims victory after controversial election count

Turkey’s president to assume unprecedented levels of power and abolish office of PM

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory on Sunday night in a presidential election that will see him assume unprecedented political power.

The result was shrouded in controversy as opposition parties claimed vote-counting was ongoing when Mr Erdogan and pro-government media outlets declared victory.

With 97 per cent of the vote counted, the state-run Anadolu Agency said Mr Erdogan secured about 52 per cent of the vote and an overall majority that avoids a run-off vote. Figures broadcast by Turkish media networks that take a pro-government stance or that are owned by individuals sympathetic to the president did not differ significantly with an opposition monitoring source. However, opposition groups claimed that votes in large cities and in the Kurdish-majority southeast – regions less likely to back Mr Erdogan – had yet to be counted.

Speaking at a gathering of supporters in Ankara last night before the final result had been issued, Mr Erdogan said: "Today the people have voted freely and shown their preferences. This is a win-win situation for everyone. No one should cast doubt on the election system because they cannot digest defeat."


Ministers and judiciary

Mr Erdogan can now appoint ministers and members of the judiciary, while the office of prime minister will be abolished.

The opposition CHP, whose presidential candidate is, according to the state media count, expected to win 31 per cent of the vote, accused Turkey's state broadcaster of "manipulating" public perception as the counting continued on Sunday night. "Anadolu Agency is doing manipulation. I'm calling on our [representatives at] polling stations not to leave the ballot boxes," opposition CHP presidential candidate Muharrem Ince tweeted.

Allegations of ballot irregularities in the southeast and elsewhere were reported early in the day. Three people, including Mehmet Siddik Dormaz, a district head of the opposition IYI Party, were reported to have died in clashes in Erzurum in eastern Turkey.

Parliamentary alliance

For the first time since the AK Party came to power in 2003, opposition parties formed a parliamentary alliance in what appears an ultimately failed bid to defeat Mr Erdogan. During a campaign that saw the pro-Europe candidate Muharrem Ince energise Mr Erdogan’s critics and attract millions to a series of public rallies, coverage was heavily weighted in favour of Mr Erdogan and the AK Party. With an estimated 80 per cent of Turkish media pro-government or owned by groups with ties to the authorities, the president’s campaign dominated the airwaves.

The Kurdish-rooted HDP party, which was not part of the opposition alliance, secured a place in parliament by overcoming the 10 per cent threshold that parties are required to reach to enter the chamber. The AK Party’s representation in parliament is expected to fall from 49 per cent to 43 per cent, though its alliance with the right-wing MHP will see it maintain the majority it has held since the previous election in November 2015.

The elections were brought forward by 17 months by Mr Erdogan and took place under a state of emergency that the president has promised to now lift. Turnout was expected to reach 87 per cent, higher than in previous elections. In Ankara, thousands of Erdogan supporters gathered at the AK Party’s headquarters to celebrate his victory.