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Opposition Disputes Turkish President Erdogan's Victory Claims

Jun 25, 2018
Originally published on June 25, 2018 6:10 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won another five years in power. That's according to unofficial results from yesterday's election. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports Erdogan's ruling party and its ally will run Turkey's Parliament as well.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: As was the pattern in previous votes, the early returns were heavily in Erdogan's favor, and that lead was slowly chipped away during the night as Turkey's larger urban centers weighed in. But Erdogan's margin never fell below 50 percent in these unofficial returns, giving him a first-round win.

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PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: (Through interpreter) Our nation has given me the duty of presidency and the executive, and also given a majority to the People's Alliance in the Parliament. Security during the election and the freedom to cast votes is the symbol of the maturity of Turkish democracy.

KENYON: The second-place vote-getter, Muharrem Ince of the secular People's Republican Party (ph), energized voters and raised hopes of an upset. But the opposition said the playing field was tilted against it from the beginning. Erdogan moved the elections up by more than a year, and the largely pro-government media gave the lion's share of coverage to Erdogan and the ruling party. Outside one Istanbul polling place, Ilhan and Aynur Aslan's family revealed the kind of splits that mark today's Turkey. Some were Erdogan supporters, others firmly opposed to granting him another term.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Turkish).

KENYON: Ilhan and Aynur pointed to their youngest son, just turned 18 and casting his first vote. One of their daughters said no matter who wins, things have to change in Turkey. Her brother agreed, saying he definitely believes people's rights are being violated when they have to worry about being arrested for posting an opinion on social media. But as the results came in, it became clear that voters had opted for stability rather than change.

In his victory speech in the early hours of the morning, Erdogan chose to focus on challenges still facing the country - the threat of terrorism from Kurdish militants and those Erdogan blames for a failed coup in 2016, as well as the conflict next door in Syria that has left millions of refugees in Turkey.

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ERDOGAN: (Through interpreter) Turkey made its decision in favor of fighting decisively against all terrorist organizations. At the same time, these results show we will continue to liberate Syrian lands and open the way for our guests in our country to return home safely.

KENYON: Faced with such tough rhetoric, some voters are wondering if Erdogan intends to fulfill one of his campaign promises - to lift the state of emergency he's been governing under since 2016. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.

(SOUNDBITE OF EDAMAME'S "SPILLED SAND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.