Zee Media Bureau
Ankara: Outgoing Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan will remain at the helm of Turkey for another five years after he won the country`s first direct presidential polls in the first round itself, avoiding the need of a run-off election.
Erdogan, who has been Turkey`s Prime Minister for more than a decade (since 2003), was not allowed to stand for another term.
Before this, Turkish presidents used to be elected by parliament but Erdogan’s government pushed through a constitutional amendment in 2007, changing the procedure to a popular vote.
His AK party had declared in July that Erdogan would stand for Presidential elections.
Erdogan`s victory has paved way for nomination of the leader of the AK Party and also the appointment of a prime minister-designate.
Erdogan who won 52 percent votes, wants more powers for his presidency, but those who do not support him fear that he might turn more authoritative.
Addresing his victory speech dedicated his victory to all the citizens saying, even those who did not vote for him and who did not like him, had won.
"I will not be the president of only those who voted for me, I will be the president of 77 million. Today the national will won once again, today democracy won once again. Those who didn`t vote for me won as much as those who did, those who don`t like me won as much as those who do."
"I want to build a new future, with an understanding of a societal reconciliation, by regarding our differences as richness, and by pointing out not our differences but our common values,” said Erdogan.
Erdogan’s main rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, conceded defeat in a brief speech in Istanbul.
“I hope that the result is beneficial for democracy in Turkey,” Ihsanoglu said. “I congratulate the prime minister and wish him success.”
The first round victory ensures Erdogan, currently serving his third term as prime minister, will continue to lead the country for another five years. It will also allow him to press ahead with his plans to strengthen the powers of the presidency — which until now was largely a ceremonial post.
With 98 percent of ballot boxes opened, Erdogan stood at 51.95 percent of the vote, a count by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed. Ihsanoglu had 38.34 percent and the third candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, had 9.71 percent. Anadolu has reporters stationed in vote counting centers across the country.
The head of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP, the 60-year-old Erdogan has been a polarizing figure.
Erdogan has vowed to transform the presidency into a powerful position — something his detractors say proves he is bent on a power grab.
He has said he will activate the post’s rarely used dormant powers — a legacy of a 1980 coup — including the ability to call parliament and summon and preside over Cabinet meetings.
With Agency Inputs