Runner up in Turkish elections accepts Erdogan as President

Ince with his mother Zekiye at the rally

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday won the presidential poll in the first round, said the country's election authority chief.

But predictably, state media announced Mr Erdogan as the victor earlier on - saying he had won 53 percent of 99 votes cast, beating nearest rival Mr Ince on 31 percent.

The new period after the election results is therefore expected to be more Turkey-centered and nationalistic, with a more favorable ground for Russian Federation to pull Ankara on its side against its transatlantic alliances with the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, especially at a time when Turkey wants to buy F-35 jets from the USA and some lawmakers allegedly intend to block the sale. Ince ran a spirited campaign that threatened to force Erdogan into a damaging runoff and deny his party control of parliament.

Ignacio Sanchez Amor, head of the OSCE short-term observer mission in Turkey, said, "The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections".

"I hope that Turkey lifts these restrictions as soon as possible."

There were numerous allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation on Sunday, though turnout was high at 87 percent.

But in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP s presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

His party bitterly complained over the publication of the election results, accusing the state-run news agency Anadolu of publishing results favorable to Erdogan early on to give the impression of an easy victory.

"We will continue our fight until Turkey is a Turkey for everyone".

According to official results, Erdogan took 53 percent of the vote, with his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also making gains.

Although Erdogan dominated airtime on a pliant mainstream media, Ince finished his campaign with eye-catching mass rallies, including a mega meeting in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people. It won 23 percent in the new parliament and the pro-Kurdish HDP almost 12 percent, above the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

Nationalist politician Meral Aksener, tipped for a breakthrough after founding her new Iyi (Good) Party, suffered a disappointing night coming fourth with 7.3 percent. "The nation has entrusted me with the role of presidency and executive power", Erdogan said in his residence in Istanbul.

"The message is clear", he said.

"There are no significant differences between our records and the Supreme Election Council's records", Ince told reporters.

Why did Erdogan hold elections early?

In an address to thousands of supporters in Ankara, Erdogan said that democracy was the victor and that Turkey was "an example for the rest of the world", The Guardian reported.

"With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilizations", he said.

"We respect the decision of Turkish voters and look forward to a constructive relationship with President Erdogan as we jointly confront common challenges", said a State Department spokeswoman who declined to be identified by name.

Ince, the CHP leader, was backed by the newly formed National Alliance, which along with secular social democrats, includes center-right conservatives, nationalist liberal conservatives, and conservative Islamists.

The constitutional changes were endorsed in a tight referendum a year ago by 51% of voters.

The President's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.

The political opposition is disputing the official results, saying more votes have to be counted, and has accused the country's election commission of manipulating results.

"It is likely that Erdogan and his party will keep cooperating with the MHP, if he wants to keep on implementing the policies he followed in the last few years".

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