Turkey elections: 5 things we learned

Turkey elections: 5 things we learned
Copyright Reuters
By Sallyann Nicholls
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The day's events explained.


Turkey's election authority chief early on Monday morning declared Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the winner of the presidential poll, with 53% of the votes. The AKP leader hours earlier claimed victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, saying he has been given a "strong mandate" by the people. Opposition leaders have alleged electoral fraud.

Several world leaders were quick to congratulate Erdogan, according to state-run Anadolu Agency, including Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The main challenger to Erdogan, centre-left candidate Muharrem Ince, had warned that an Erodogan win will lead to authoritarian rule.

Read more | Confused about Turkey's new election system? We explain here.

This year's elections were unprecedented, as Erdogan will wield executive powers — and the prime minister post will be booted.

Here are five key takeaways from the Turkish election:

Erdogan pre-emptively declares victory

Defying critics, including the opposition, who said the ballots were still being counted before the winner can be announced — Erdogan held a press conference to declare outright victory in the presidential race. The incumbent said the electorate had given him a “strong mandate” to enact executive reforms and fulfill his campaign promises.

"I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure," he added, a nod to the opposition candidates who had so far refused to concede defeat amid claims of electoral fraud.

But despite Erdogan’s success, the ruling AKP party failed to secure the 300 seats necessary to maintain their majority in parliament, meaning their alliance with the nationalist MHP, who would bring their tally from 293 to 343, must hold so their power is assured.

The opposition 'concede defeat'

In a sign of the times, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) reportedly conceded defeat late on Sunday in a WhatsApp message. On Fox TV, reporter Ismail Kucukkaya said Muharrem Ince told him, “the guy won”, referring to Erdogan. This was later confirmed by a news director at the pro-CHP Halk TV channel. Ince eventually announced that he would address the nation himself at CHP headquarters on Monday after the Supreme Election Board (YSK) releases their results.

Meanwhile, the Islamic SP party called on their supporters to “respect the democratic result”, while Good Party presidential candidate Meral Aksener said she would make a public statement on Wednesday.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party to enter parliament

Despite the fact that their co-leader Selahattin Demirtas has been imprisoned for almost two years on political and security charges, the pro-Kurdish HDP party (Peoples' Democratic Party) still managed to secure more than 10% of the national vote needed to secure seats in the assembly. The result means they will hold 46 seats in the new chamber, making them the second-largest opposition party.

The left-wing, socialist group also made small gains in this election, with more candidates overall (67), compared to the previous poll in 2015 when they secured 10.75% of the vote with 59 deputies. Prior to Sunday’s vote, it was feared that anti-Kurdish sentiment in the country, which has worsened amid ongoing clashes between Turkish soldiers and Kurds in northern Syria, had put paid to their electoral hopes.

The Nationalist Movement Party makes shock gains

The far-right party MHP defied the odds when they scooped over 11% of the national vote – double what most polls had predicted. It means the party, which joined forces with the AKP via the People’s Alliance ahead of the election, is kingmaker and will have sway in any political negotiations concerning the makeup of a new broadcast regulator and the election of the next speaker. It is unlikely, however, they will put up much resistance against Erdogan’s executive reforms as he takes up another five years in office.

For the first time ever, parliamentary and presidential elections are being held on the same day. Under the new system there will no longer be a prime minister, nor ...

What’s next?

Unlike previous Presidents, Erdogan will have almost unfettered power over the executive and judiciary. He will be tasked with appointing 12 out of 15 Supreme Court judges, he has suggested the state of emergency will be lifted after two years, and he has vowed to become more involved in monetary policy in an effort to reverse Turkey’s ailing economy. Meanwhile, the AKP must work with the hardline MHP to retain power, which means MHP-supported military operations in Syria will likely intensify in a bid to eliminate “terrorists”in the region, according to Erdogan, and to stave off any chance of the Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) from forming an autonomous state on the border.

Read on below for our coverage of the Turkish elections.

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