ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was proclaimed the winner early Monday 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 percent of votes had been counted. The electoral board plans to announce final official results on June 29.

Based on unofficial results, five parties passed the 10 percent support threshold required for parties to enter parliament, Guven said.

“This election’s victor is democracy, this election’s victory is national will,” Erdogan told a cheering crowd outside his party headquarters in Ankara early Monday, adding that Turkey “will look at its future with so much more trust than it did this morning.”

Earlier, cheering Erdogan supporters waving Turkish flags gathered outside his official residence in Istanbul, chanting “Here’s the president, here’s the commander.”

“Justice has been served!” said Cihan Yigici, one of those in the crowd.

Kurds win seats



Thousands of jubilant supporters of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, also spilled into the streets of the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir after unofficial results from Anadolu showed the party surpassing the 10 percent threshold and coming in third with 11.5 percent of the parliamentary vote.

The HDP’s performance was a success, particularly considering it campaigned with nine of its lawmakers, including its presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, and thousands of party members in jail. It says more than 350 of its election workers have been detained since April 28.

Revelers waved HDP flags and blared car horns. One party supporter, Nejdet Erke, said he had been “waiting for this emotion” since the morning.

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.

The new system of government abolished the office of prime minister and empowers the president to take over an executive branch and form the government. He will appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.

The Turkish Parliament will legislate and have the right to ratify or reject the budget. With Erdogan remaining at the helm of his party, a loyal parliamentary majority could reduce checks and balances on his power unless the opposition can wield an effective challenge.