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Turkey's Erdogan Wins First Direct Presidential Election

NPR icon by Scott Neuman
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Osman Orsal

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey's first-ever direct presidential election, with an unofficial 53 percent of the vote.

Opposition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu conceded defeat in elections, offering congratulations to Erdogan in a brief statement to reporters in Istanbul.

AP reports:

"With 93.7 percent of ballot boxes opened, Erdogan was ahead with 53.05 percent of the vote, the count by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed. Erdogan's main rival, [Ihsanoglu,] was shown at 37.81 percent and the third candidate, [Kurdish candidate] Selahattin Demirtas, at 9.14 percent.

" 'The people showed their will at the polls today,' Erdogan said in a brief speech before thousands of supporters in Istanbul Sunday evening, but stopped short of declaring victory."

It's the first time in Turkey's history that the president has been chosen by popular vote. An estimated 53 million of the country's 76 million eligible voters cast ballots.

Al-Jazeera reported before the poll results were known:

"The presidential vote takes place just three months after Erdogan's ruling conservative Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) scored a landslide win in local elections.

"The local elections were held in a tense political climate amid new internet controls, frequent anti-government protests and allegations of corruption surrounding Erdogan's government.

"However, the prime minister's popularity seems unscathed by the developments and he has made little secret of his desire to see the largely ceremonial role imbued with far greater clout if he wins."

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