Erdogan proclaimed Turkey election winner

By AAP Newswire

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been proclaimed the winner of a landmark election that ushers in a government system granting the president sweeping new powers and which critics say will cement what they call a one-man rule.

The presidential vote and a parliamentary election, both held more than a year early, completed NATO-member Turkey's transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, a process started with a voter referendum last year.

"The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty," Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul after a near-complete count carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency gave him the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

The head of Turkey's Supreme Election Council, Sadi Guven, declared Erdogan the winner early Monday after 97.7 of votes had been counted. The electoral board plans to announce final official results on June 29.

Opposition presidential candidate Muharrem Ince of the Republican People's Party (CHP) conceded defeat on Monday in an election he described as "unjust".

Erdogan earlier gave a triumphant victory speech from the balcony of his party's headquarters in the capital Ankara.

"This election's victor is democracy, this election's victory is national will," Erdogan told a cheering crowd, adding that Turkey "will look at its future with so much more trust than it did this morning."

Earlier, jubiliant Erdogan supporters waving Turkish flags gathered outside his official residence in Istanbul, chanting "Here's the president, here's the commander."

Erdogan, 64, insisted the expanded powers of the Turkish presidency will bring prosperity and stability to the country, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016. A state of emergency imposed after the coup remains in place.

Some 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 civil servants have been fired under the emergency, which opposition lawmakers say Erdogan has used to stifle dissent.

Erdogan's apparent win comes at a critical time for Turkey. He recently led a high-stakes foreign affairs gamble, cosying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin with pledges to install a Russian missile defence system in the NATO-member country.

The president's critics have warned that Erdogan's re-election would cement his already firm grip on power and embolden a leader they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies.