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Erdogan Tightens His Grip On Turkey In Early Elections

26 June, 2018, 11:10 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • President Erdogan has had opponents arrested and jailed

A night of triumph for Erdogan saw the man who has dominated Turkey for the last decade and a half declared victor of Sunday's presidential polls without needing a second round, leading his ruling party-led alliance to an overall majority in parliament.

His main and closest rival Muharrem Ince, the candidate of the secular main opposition CHP, got 31 percent of the votes from people who hoped for a political sea-change. "So I think Turkish people should be respected for their determination to respect their democracy and their freedoms and their dignity in fact, because it is a political and social process that strips a nation of its dignity so I think people in Turkey, those who are not supporting Erdogan, need to be recognised for this wonderful effort of theirs to protect the country and democracy".

"We have received the message that has been given to us in the ballot boxes", he told a crowd of flag-waving supporters.

"The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections".

Erdogan spoke of his commitment to fight terrorist organisations and "to continue the fight to make the Syrian grounds freer" and to better the country's "international reputation".

"Turkey has given a lesson in democracy to the entire world", he added, pointing to a turnout of 88 per cent. "(Turkey) has transitioned to a one-man regime in the fullest sense".

The state-run Anadolu news agency said that, based on unofficial results, the AK Party and its MHP alliance will hold 343 seats in Turkey's 600-seat parliament, with 293 of those for the AKP and 50 for the nationalists.

The most popular - yet divisive - leader in modern Turkish history, Erdogan pledged there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a deeply polarized nation that is both a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union. The country's electoral board hasn't published official results yet, but it confirmed that Erdogan won.

How will Erdoğan approach the new presidential system he inherits, one granting far greater powers for his position?

There was good news for the HDP which easily broke through the 10% minimum vote threshold to pick up 67 seats, sparking wild celebrations in its Kurdish-majority stronghold of Diyarbakir.

He went on to orchestrate a referendum in 2017 that amended Turkey's constitution and consolidated power in his hands.

Others congratulating Erdogan included Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Hamas chief Ismail Haniya.

A man casts his ballot at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey, on June 24, 2018. "I would have said [Erdogan's party] cheated but I just watched Mr. Ince conceding the election and accepting the results without protest".

After being declared the victor, Erdogan on June 25 said he would act more decisively against terrorist organizations and would liberate more territory in Syria to allow "our guests" to go home safely, referring to the thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the bloody seven-year civil war in the Middle East country.

"Erdogan and his team will earn experience and will try to correct the system's flaws while implementing it", he said, adding that there will be new decrees and legislations to achieve that.

Polls had suggested the possibility that the presidential vote could head into a second-round runoff on July 8 and that the AKP could lose its parliamentary majority after 16 years.

81 million Turkish citizens have voted in parliamentary and presidential elections.

The president imposed emergency two years ago in the wake of the 2016 failed 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. They will continue to "liberate Syrian lands", he said, so that the 3.5 million refugees now living in the country can one day go home. Look at the popularity of United States President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron.


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