By Middle East Affairs
On Sunday, President Trump won Turkey’s election, granting himself more power than ever before.
The president himself called for the election, more than a year ahead of schedule in order to transition the country from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency.
On the eve of his win, President Erdogan gave a speech saying, “The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty.”
Sadi Guven, the Supreme Election Council head said on Monday that President Erdogan had won 97.7 % of votes.
He also said that so far based on unofficial results, that five parties had secured more than 10% of the minimum percentage needed to gain a seat in parliament.
Outside the president’s home in Istanbul, supporters cheered, “Here’s the president, here’s the commander”, when the final votes were announced.
Cihan Yigici, one of the president’s supporters said, “Justice has been served!”
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party or HDP supporters also took to the streets to celebrate in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir after results showed that the party won 11. 5 % of the legislate vote and secured enough votes to enter parliament.
This is an extraordinary win as many of HDP politicians campaigned from behind bars in prison, as President Erdogan accused many HDP party members of supporting terrorism, including its presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, eight of its lawmakers and thousands of party members. HDP has reported that since April 28, 350 of its election workers were detained and charged.
Anadolu reported that the jailed Demirtas who faces 142 years in prison came in third place with 8.3 % of the votes for president.
Nejdet Erke, one of the HDP supporters who was waving a flag said he had “waiting for this emotion” since morning.
President Erdogan has insisted that the reasons behind his championing for an executive presidency are that it would bring further stability and prosperity to the country, ahead of the failed 2016 coup.
Turkey has been in a state of emergency since then with more than 50,000 people arrested and 110,000 fired civil servants for their alleged ties to Fethullah Gulen.
From now on Turkey will no longer have a prime minister as the duties for the position will be absorbed by the president. It will be up to the president to form a new government, as well as appoint ministers, vice presidents, and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.
It will be up to the Turkish parliament, controlled by President Erdogan’s AK party to ratify or reject the legislative budget. A loyal parliamentary majority reduces the chances of checks and balance in government giving President Erdogan greater chances to control the agenda unless opposition parties in parliament can advocate for their own platforms.
Critics of the president stressed that this win further emboldens a president with autocratic tendencies and assures him of his limitless power to shape the country.
Turkey is in a critical time as President Erdogan has taken major gambles in foreign diplomacy in recent months, one of his strategies includes getting closer with Russia’s President Putin and his agreeing to allow Russian missile defense system within Turkey’s borders.
Main opposition candidate Ince said that state-run Anadolu did not accurately report the official vote count by the country’s electoral board. Ince’s party the CHP said that it was waiting for the official results from the country’s electoral board.
In his victory speech, President Erdogan also celebrated his victory for the People’s Alliance, an electoral coalition between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the small Nationalist Movement Party, an alliance that allows President Erdogan to keep his majority in the 600 seat parliament.
Prior to the election, polls showed President Erdogan and his AK party losing their 293 seat majority, the alliance, however, won them 49 seats.
In his speech, the president said, “Even though we could not reach out goal in parliament, God willing we will be working to solve that with all our efforts in the People’s Alliance.”
President Erdogan has never lost an election since he entered high stakes Turkish politics first as prime minister in 2003. Sunday’s election was the toughest one that the president faced with more opposition parties than ever before proclaiming their right to challenge the president and ensure a democratic process of checks and balances in parliament.
The president is known for his aggressive power politics, his support comes mainly from rural low educated Turks from the conservative threshold of Anatolia. He himself comes from a low economic background, and championed his way to the mayor of Istanbul, and continued growing Turkey’s economy. While in office, Turkey has seen an infrastructure boom that lifted the country to modern times. He has also ruled under a conservative Islamic policy, championing for Islam into everyday life including removing the ban of headscarves in school and public offices, which was put into effect as a way to modernize and secularize Turkey.
Since the Gezi Park Protests in May 2013, President Erdogan has claimed a reputation of an authoritarian ruler eager to banish dissent, sending thousands and thousands of journalists, lawyers, educators, and artists to prison. In Turkey speaking out against the president could very easily land you in prison on charges of anti-Turkishness. Over the last few years, Turkey has become notable for its arrests of journalists, becoming infamous as the country with most jailed journalists, currently, there are 72 imprisoned journalists.
Critics have said that President Erdogan did not run an honest camping greatly reducing airtime for his political opponents during the election.
His main political rival, Ince of the CHP party saw attendance in his rallies in three major Turkish cities: Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul reach into the millions. The former high school teacher was a favorite among Turks on both sides of the political sphere and his charismatic speeches won him many supporters, eager to see President Erdogan lose his position.
In this election, more than 59 million Turkish citizens were eligible to vote, three million were expats voters, many of whom were as equally divided in their support of President Erdogan as their fellow country women and men back home.