(June 25, 2018 / JNS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) emerged victorious in the country’s first-ever dual presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, giving the Turkish leader sweeping executive powers and further cementing his grip on the Muslim country.
Erdoğan, 64, secured 52.5 percent of the vote in the presidential election, with his opponent, Muharrem Ince, garnering 30.7 percent. Erdoğan’s AKP won 42.5 percent of the votes in the parliamentary election.
Erdoğan, who first served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014, then as president, hailed the election victory as a mandate to build on his muscular Islamist and nationalist agenda.
“The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty,” he said in televised remarks from Istanbul.
“It is out of the question for us to turn back from where we’ve brought our country in terms of democracy and the economy. … There is no stopping for us until we bring Turkey, which we saved from plotters, coupists and political and economic hitmen, street gangs and terrorist organizations, to among the top 10 economies in the world.”
Turkish opposition figures have long accused the president of eroding the country’s democratic institutions by jailing journalists, judges and other officials, as well as purging the military, which had long been seen as a bastion of the country’s secular tradition established under the founder of the Turkish Republic Kemal Atatürk.
At the same time, Erdoğan’s increasingly aggressive stance has put him at odds with the country’s Western allies in NATO and Israel.
U.S. lawmakers this month sought to block the sale of the advance F-35 fight jet to Turkey over concerns of Erdoğan’s deteriorating ties with the United States and autocratic behavior.
At the same time, despite re-establishing relations with Israel in late 2016, Erdoğan has repeatedly attacked the Jewish state for its policies towards the Palestinians and has voiced support for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.