Turkey's Erdogan clinches second term with majority vote

Erdogan, who secured a new five-year term as President on the first round of voting on Sunday, re-enters office with a vast array of new powers at his disposal, following a narrowly-won constitutional referendum last year.

Speaking early Monday, Supreme Election Council head Sadi Guven said 97.7 percent of votes had been counted and declared Erdogan the victor, according to the Associated Press.

However the opposition raised doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the figures released by state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of the official vote tally.

Turkey's main opposition candidate Muharrem Ince has conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections, calling on the victor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who returns as president, to end his divisive policies.

Polls closed at 5 p.m. local time, and though Turkey does not have exit polls, the Supreme Electoral Council said it hoped to announce preliminary results before midnight. As of Monday morning he had not conceded the election and urged election observers not to leave ballot boxes.

Turnout in the presidential election was nearly 88 percent, according to the figures published by Anadolu. Erdogan will most likely try to capitalize on his new mandate and seek to extract concessions from the United States in Syria and prevent military sanctions from brewing in the U.S. Congress. If the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10 percent minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Erdogan on his victory.

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".

Of those votes, 60,800 went to Erdogan and 12,300 to his main rival Muharrem Ince.

Voting in Istanbul along with his son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan said he expected turnout to be strong in an indication of "how mature democracy is in Turkey".

A headline by British magazine The Economist reading "Turkish people should show Erdogan the door" was also slammed by some Erdogan supporters.

Up to half a million election monitors were deployed to polling stations by opposition parties and NGOs concerned about fraud allegations in the vote. This brings the combined share of parliamentary power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and MHP to 53.6% - majority needed by Erdogan, who failed to win an outright majority in parliament.

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

Merkel underlined the traditionally friendly relations between Berlin and Ankara and also expressed support for stability and democracy in Turkey.

Erdogan has declared himself an "enemy of interest rates", raising fears he will pressure the central bank to cut borrowing costs after the election despite double-digit inflation.

Ince, 54, had condemned what he says are the excesses of the security state under Erdogan and pledged to end emergency rule if elected. Supporters of Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, Sunday, June 24, 2018.

But the opposition has lambasted the uneven nature of the poll, which saw state-controlled television ignore Ince's giant rally in Istanbul on the eve of the election.

Under Erdogan, the government has presided over a far-reaching crackdown on dissidents, activists and the media, jailing journalists and opposition leaders, and shuttering independent news outlets.

  • Eleanor Harrison