Erdogan won the Turkish election after an unequal battle, monitors say

GETTYErdogan and his opposition Muharrem Ince

GETTYErdogan and his opposition Muharrem Ince

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the past 15 years, prepared Monday to extend his rule and take on sweeping new powers after his victory in the country's landmark presidential and parliamentary elections.

With 97.7% of the votes counted the electoral board pronounced Mr Erdogan as the victor with an "absolute majority" of valid votes. Final results are due to be published by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) later this week but its chairman Sadi Guven declared Erdogan the victor. Meanwhile, CHP's Ince, Erdogan's main rival in the presidential race has conceded defeat.

"The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections. In my name and in Turkey's name, I thank them".

There were numerous allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation on Sunday, though turnout was high at 87 percent.

Mr Ince had previously complained that unequal campaign conditions in Turkey mean the election was "unjust". Yet they must also find ways to nurture Turkey's democratic spirit amid the implementation of constitutional reforms that consolidate presidential power and limit checks and balances.

Erdogan, Turkey's most popular if contentious politician, won 53.6% of the vote with 99% of ballot boxes counted, trailed by Ince, who drew record crowds during a spirited campaign but won just 34.1%, failing to force Erdogan into a second round, according to unofficial results reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Although the head of Turkey's Supreme Election Council, Sadi Guven, confirmed Erdogan's victory he added that the official results will be announced on July 5.

There has been less tension between Turkey and the USA since a preliminary agreement was reached on American military support for the People's Protection Units in Manbij at the start of the month.

Speaking to supporters from the balcony of his ruling AK Party's headquarters in Ankara after Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections, Erdogan said Turkey would also act more decisively against terrorist organizations. But together with its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party, which outperformed at the polls, it will maintain control of the parliament.

Ince, who belongs to the secular Republican People's Party, drew hundreds of thousands of supporters in Izmir on the Aegean coast on Wednesday. It won 23 percent in the new parliament and the pro-Kurdish HDP almost 12 percent, above the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

The opposition parties' alliance, the Nation's Alliance, which consists of the CHP, the Iyi Party and the Saadet Party, will have 190 MPs; the People's Alliance will have 344 MPs in the 600-member chamber. But for the first time, he faced a formidable challenger in Ince, whose charisma and sharp criticism of the president gave him wide appeal.

Mesut Yegen, a professor with Istanbul Sehir University, said Erdogan overcame and averted all obstacles on his way to realise his goal of becoming Turkey's first executive president.

"The message is clear", he said. The last time it also exceeded 30 percent in an election was in the 1970s.

Why did Erdogan hold elections early?

"Turkey is staging a democratic revolution", Erdogan told reporters in the polling station in Istanbul where he voted on June 24. "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations".

Analyst and columnist Avni Ozgurel said that while the new system will allow Turkey to be governed in a more efficient and stable manner in the long-run, it is bound to run into problems during its initial implementation stage.

Unluhisarcikli thinks that AKP now needs the continued support of its alliance partner Nationalist Action Party (MHP) for a majority in the Parliament.

Spain and Portugal reach World Cup knockout round
Tunisia Require Improvement Against Belgium