June 25 (UPI) — Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected president and his ruling party retained power Sunday although the opposition claimed voter fraud.
Late Sunday, supporters chanted slogans and lit torches outside his palace in Istanbul.
“Citizens have cast their votes and spoken clearly,” Erdogan said in a televised news conference in his residence. “We will do more for the nation. The ongoing quarrels that took place during the campaign, we will now have to leave them behind and start serving the nation.”
Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party ran in an alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party to create the People’s Alliance.
Erdogan had 52.7 percent of the votes with 96 percent counted, followed by Muharrem Ince at 30.8 percent, Selahattin Demirtas at 8.1 percent and Meral Aksener at 7.4 percent, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency news agency. Turkey would have held a run-off election on July 8 if no one received 50 percent of the votes.
TRT World, which is Turkey’s international TV network, earlier called the race for Erdogan, but no official announcement has been made by the electoral board. And Ince said only about half of the ballot boxes have been opened and called on party monitors to stay by the ballot boxes.
With 96.0 percent of the parliamentary votes counted, the ruling party leads with 53.7 percent followed by the Nation Alliance with 34.1 percent. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party has 11.2 percent, passing the 10 percent threshold to enter into the assembly.
More than 56 million people were eligible to vote as they went to the polls for the first time to simultaneously elect members of the parliament and president.
Last year, Erdogan narrowly won a referendum to convert the country’s parliamentary system to a powerful executive presidency. The role of prime minister will be dissolved and the president gains the authority to issue laws by decree.
Ince, a former high school physics teacher, is 10 years younger than Erdogan, 64, who became president in 2014 but previously served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014.
Ince, who belongs to the secular Republican People’s Party, drew hundreds of thousands of supporters in Izmir on the Aegean coast on Wednesday.
Erdogan cast his vote at a school in Istanbul’s Uskudar with his wife, Emine.
“It [turnout] displays how advanced Turkish democracy is and how developed its democratic maturity is,” Erdogan said. “Turkey is experiencing a democratic revolution with this election,” he added.
Voter turnout in the presidential election was 86.82 percent and parliamentary turnout was 87 percent, according to state broadcaster TRT.
Election board chief Sadi Guven said officials were taking “administrative and judicial initiatives” over reported security problems as people voted in Sanliurfa, in the country’s southeast, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.