Turkey's Erdogan renews hold on power with election victory

PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018, as they celebrate Erdogan winning five more years in office.PlayKayhan Ozer /Turkish Presidential Press Service/AFP/Getty Images
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated a sweeping re-election victory after a hard-fought campaign that proved to be his most challenging political battle after nearly 15 years in power.

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Erdogan declared victory overnight, just a few hours after polls closed on Sunday evening.

"The winner of this election is each and every individual among my 81 million citizens," he said.

According to official results, Erdogan took 53 percent of the vote, with his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also making gains. An extremely high voter turnout was recorded with nearly 87 percent of the electorate casting ballots.

PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018, as they celebrate Erdogan winning five more years in office.Kayhan Ozer /Turkish Presidential Press Service/AFP/Getty Images
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018, as they celebrate Erdogan winning five more years in office.

Muharrem Ince, Turkey's main opposition candidate, conceded defeat but described the election as "unjust" and warned that Turkey was entering a dangerous regime of one-man rule.

PHOTO: Supporters of Turkeys President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan light flares during celebrations outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, June 24, 2018.Emrah Gurel/AP
Supporters of Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan light flares during celebrations outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, June 24, 2018.

Burcu, a 29-year-old shopkeeper in Istanbul who declined to provide his last name, told ABC News he voted for Ince and is suspicious of the official results.

"I am so disappointed," he said. "I would have said [Erdogan's party] cheated but I just watched Mr. Ince conceding the election and accepting the results without protest."

Critics complained about what they say were unequal campaign conditions with Erdogan dominating media coverage in a country that has been named the world's worst jailer of journalists.

With election victory in hand, Erdogan will rule with new muscle provided by sweeping changes to the constitution that were approved by a narrow majority of the electorate in a controversial referendum that he championed last year.

PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to deliver a speech, June 24, 2018, in Istanbul, after initial results of Turkeys presidential and parliamentary elections.Bulent Kilicb/AFP/Getty Images
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to deliver a speech, June 24, 2018, in Istanbul, after initial results of Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Under new presidential powers, Erdogan will have the authority to appoint top public officials as well as a vice president. The office of prime minister will be abolished and all executive power will be transferred to Erdogan alone.

The Venice Commission, which provides legal advice to the Council of Europe, warned about the changes in a report, saying they would "lead to an excessive concentration of executive power in the hands of the president and the weakening of parliamentary control of that power."

PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018 as they celebrate Erdogan winning five more years.Kayhan Ozer /Turkish Presidential Press Service/AFP/Getty Images
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018 as they celebrate Erdogan winning five more years.

Omer, a 31-year-old taxi driver in Istanbul, told ABC News he was happy with the outcome.

"We always vote for our leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan," he said while navigating his cab through traffic. "Turkey is surrounded by enemies and countries in the west. The United States, France and Germany don't want us to be stable. In this election we have given them a strong message and a good old Ottoman slap."

Tapping in to nationalist fears of outside influences in Turkey after a failed coup in 2016, Erdogan painted his political opponents as traitors to democracy.

PHOTO: A supporter of Turkeys President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chants slogans during celebrations outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, June 24, 2018.Emrah Gurel/AP
A supporter of Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chants slogans during celebrations outside the party headquarters in Istanbul, June 24, 2018.

"There is no stopping for us until we bring Turkey, which we saved from plotters, coupists and political and economic hit men, street gangs and terrorist organizations, to among the top 10 economies in the world," he said.

Despite Erdogan's hopes for a strong economy, the value of Turkey's lire has lost nearly 20 percent of its value this year. That, coupled with high inflation rates and fears that the central bank's independence will be further reduced, has left international investors uneasy after Erdogan’s victory.

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