International desk – Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s long-standing leader, has been won the first round of presidential poll, media report said.
His new term will be for five years.
Election authority chief Sadi Guven said the president “received the absolute majority of all valid votes”.
State media reports put Erdogan on 53 per cent with 99 per cent of votes counted, and his closest rival Muharrem Ince on 31 per cent, according to BBC report
The opposition is yet to officially concede but said it would continue its democratic fight “whatever the result”.
It had earlier cast doubt on results being broadcast by state media. Final results will be announced on Friday.
The polls were the most fiercely-fought in many years, and Erdogan is set to assume sweeping powers under a new executive presidency.
He has presided over a strong economy and built up a solid support base by investing in healthcare, education and infrastructure.
But the 64-year-old has also polarised opinion, cracking down on opponents and putting some 160,000 in jail.
Erdogan will assume major new powers under Turkey’s new constitution. The changes were endorsed in a tight referendum last year by 51 per cent of voters, and are due to come into force after the election.
The new constitution stipulates directly appointing top public officials, including ministers and vice-presidents. He will have the power to intervene in the country’s legal system and power to impose a state of emergency. The job of prime minister will also be scrapped under the new system.
Some critics argue the enhanced role will place too much power in one person’s hands, and that Turkey’s new system lacks the checks and balances of other executive presidencies like France or the US.
Erdogan maintains his increased authority will empower him to address Turkey’s economic woes and defeat Kurdish rebels in the country’s south-east.
In his victory speech, he said Turkey would act more firmly against terrorist groups, and would continue to “liberate Syrian lands” so refugees can return to their homes there, according to BBC.