Erdogan declared winner of Turkey presidential polls


Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory for his ruling AK Party in Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections, overcoming the biggest electoral challenge to their rule in a decade and a half.

As of 22.10 p.m. local time with almost 30 percent of ballot boxes opened, 59.3 percent of Turkish expats voted for Erdoğan, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

In the presidential poll, Erdogan has over 58 percent against his nearest rival Muharrem Ince of the secular Republican People´s Party (CHP) with over 27 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 27 percent vote count.

However, the first results had been expected to give Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted party a strong lead and it is expected to shorten as more votes are tallied across the nation of 81 million people.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for 15 years, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president, praised the executive presidency that comes into force after the election.

Erdogan, 64, is seeking re-election for a new five-year term, and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is hoping to retain its majority in parliament.

Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) celebrate the results of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections, on June 24, 2018 in the mainly-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey. If the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10 percent minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority.

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain "extended heartfelt felicitations to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on his victory in the elections".

Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, had faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before. One party supporter, Nejdet Erke, said he had been "waiting for this emotion" since the morning.

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Following the failed coup, Turkey has been under a state of emergency for almost two years and has seen a widespread crackdown on alleged supporters of Gulen.

In the parliamentary contest, the AK Party had 43 percent and its MHP ally almost 11 percent, based on 90 percent of votes counted, broadcasters said.

Turkey's global TV network announced Mr Erdogan was the victor when just 91 percent of votes had been counted.

Erdogan called the election more than a year early in what analysts say was a pre-emptive move ahead of a possible economic downturn.

Election turnout nationwide was very high at around 87 percent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including three million living overseas, were eligible to vote.

In a phone call, Aliyev said Turkey has grown under Erdogan's leadership, adding that Turkey's economy has scored great successes and Ankara has cemented its position internationally.

The HDP reported a handful of irregularities to the High Electoral Board during polling, including bloc voting and armed groups intimidating voters in the largely Kurdish southeast.

He accused Mr Ince - a former teacher and MP of 16 years - of lacking the skills to lead.