Erdogan declares victory in Turkey’s presidential elections, doubts linger about results

While Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in presidential  elections, based on unofficial results, the Turkish opposition declared that the incumbent had not yet won.

By: AP

Unofficial results from Turkey’s presidential elections appear to show incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a commanding lead.

With more than half of ballot boxes counted Sunday, Erdogan had 56.5 percent of the vote, which would be enough for him to win outright and avoid a runoff election.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said challenger Muharrem Ince was in second place, with nearly 29 percent of the vote. Jailed candidate Selahattin Demirtas hovered at around 6 percent.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party is nearing the 10 percent electoral threshold to enter parliament, with 9 percent of the vote.

Sunday’s high-stakes presidential and parliamentary elections could consolidate Erdogan’s grip on power or curtail his vast political ambitions.

Notwithstanding the reports from Anadolu, the leading Turkish opposition party said on Sunday night just moments before Erdogan claimed victory that it believes the results for the presidential elections are incomplete and may go to a second round.

Spokesman Bulent Tezcan of the Republican People’s Party slammed Turkey’s state-run news agency for reporting that Erdogan had won enough to avoid a run-off and accused the agency of distorting the results.

He said, “there is a high probability the presidential election will go to a second round.”

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Ince tweeted that only 37 percent of ballot boxes had actually been counted when Anadolu reported Sunday that more than 85 percent were tallied.

Ince was the lead rival to Erdogan in the election. He called on election observers and party members “not to abandon the ballot boxes.”

Erdogan’s ruling party slammed Ince’s comments. Government spokesman Bekir Bozdag alleged that Ince was “threatening and targeting” the news agency.

Speaking in televised remarks from Istanbul late Sunday, 64-year-old Erdogan said “the nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty.”

Turkey’s system of governance will transform into an executive presidency with sweeping powers after Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Whoever controls parliament will be key to providing checks and balances on what critics warn could be a “one-man regime.”