Turkey’s Presidential election has been resulted. As expected, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become the 12th President of the Republic of Turkey. The result marked a personal triumph for Erdogan, 60, who has served as premier since 2003 and could potentially be President for two mandates, which means until 2024.
In this piece, I tried to focus on how the British newspapers reflected the results. For this work, I collected some of well-known and top newspapers published in the UK. These are: The Observer, BBC, The Guardian, Valley Star, The Independent, The Sun Daily, The Telegraph and Reuters.
As I worked on, I noticed that the British newspapers are afraid of the new era of Turkey. In their columns, we see that there is fear from Mr. Erdogan, the 12th President of the Republic of Turkey, who could transform the country into a more authoritarian state although he got over % 50 of votes. They also gave importance to the fact that millions of voters did not use vote their votes in this election.
The news in the British media on Turkey’s Presidential Election
* The Observer:
“Tayyip Erdogan secured his place in history as Turkey’s first directly elected head of state on Sunday; taking him a step closer to the presidential system he covets in a result his opponents fear heralds an increasingly authoritarian rule.”
“Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins Turkish presidential election.”
“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won his country’s first direct presidential election. With almost all the votes counted, Mr. Erdogan had won about 52 %, against 38 % for main rival Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. Mr. Erdogan’s other rival, Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, took about 9 % of the vote. The huge margin of victory means there is no need for a run-off. Mr. Erdogan, who has vowed to bolster the power of the president, promised supporters a ‘social reconciliation period’, saying: ‘Let’s leave the old discussions in the old Turkey.’ He added in the speech in Ankara: ‘Today, not only those who love us, but also those who don’t have won. Today Turkey has won.’
“The veteran leader, who has spent three terms as prime minister, is revered by supporters for boosting the economy and giving a voice to conservatives. But his critics lament his authoritarian approach and Islamist leanings in a secular state, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Ankara. After the provisional results were announced Mr. İhsanoğlu, joint candidate for the two main opposition parties, said: ‘I congratulate the prime minister and wish him success.'”
* The Guardian:
“Erdogan emerges victorious in Turkish presidential elections amid low turnout”
“Erdogan casts his ballot in Istanbul. Critics say his victory would mean a greater authoritarian state. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the country’s first direct presidential election on Sunday, and issued a message of unity, saying he would be a president for everyone. ‘I will not be the president of only those who voted for me, I will be the president of 77 million,’ Erdogan said in a victory speech delivered from the balcony of his Justice and Development Party headquarters in Ankara. ‘Today the national will won once again, today democracy won once again,’ he told thousands of flag-waving, cheering supporters. ‘Those who didn’t vote for me won as much as those who did, those who don’t like me won as much as those who do.’ With 99 % of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan had 51.95 % of the vote, according to figures from the state-run Anadolu news agency, which had reporters at ballot counting stations across the country. Opposition candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a former diplomat and academic had 38.34 % and the third candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, had 9.71 %. Supreme Election Council head Sadi Guven said Erdogan had won but that no official results would be released until Monday.”
“Erdogan’s win was expected: Recent opinion polls had him far ahead of İhsanoğlu, 70, and Demirtaş, 41, co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s party (HDP). İhsanoğlu congratulated Erdogan and wished him a successful term as president. The pro-Kurdish HDP emerged as the surprise winner: in several provinces outside the Kurdish region the party managed to substantially increase their votes. In a first reaction to the results, Demirtaş told a cheering crowd in Diyarbakir that the HDP would continue to expand their base and celebrated the ‘victory of democracy and equality’ despite ‘an unfair and unequal election campaign’. ‘The messages we wanted to convey has reached all of Turkey, and our presidential election campaign has reached its goal. This is an important result and a victory,’ Demirtaş said. The Turkish president was previously chosen by parliament, but a 2010 referendum gave Turks the power to choose the head of state by direct vote. Until now the post has largely been a symbolic one, but Erdogan has repeatedly underlined his wish to use ‘the full extent of his constitutional powers’ to be an ‘active president’. Critics fear that he will turn an already polarised Turkey into an increasingly authoritarian state. More than 53 million Turkish voters were eligible to cast their ballots on Sunday. But at several Istanbul polling stations, there was no rush to vote. At midday, one election official in the conservative district of Tophane was disappointed by the low turnout: ‘There are about 1,000 people who should vote here today, but so far not even 200 have voted. For the local elections in March, this place was heaving. People don’t seem to care as much about presidential elections.'”
* Valley Star:
“Erdogan wins Turkey’s 1st direct presidential vote”
“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey’s first direct presidential election Sunday, striking a conciliatory tone toward critics who fear he is bent on a power grab as he embarks on another five years at the country’s helm. ‘I will not be the president of only those who voted for me, I will be the president of 77 million,’ Erdogan said in a victory speech delivered from the balcony of the Ankara headquarters of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP. ‘Today the national will won once again, today democracy won once again,’ he told thousands of flag-waving, cheering supporters. ‘Those who didn’t vote for me won as much as those who did, those who don’t like me won as much as those who do.’ The three-term prime minister’s message of unity was in stark contrast to his mostly bitter, divisive election campaign, when he poured scorn on his opponents, cast doubt on their Turkish identity and even accused his main challenger of being part of a shadowy coup conspiracy he said was run by a former associate living in the United States. ‘I want to build a new future, as of today, with an understanding of a societal reconciliation, by regarding our differences as richness, and by pointing out not our differences but our common values,’ he said.”
“Erdogan, 60, has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade. Revered by many as a man of the people who ushered in a period of economic prosperity, he is reviled by others as an increasingly autocratic leader trying to impose his religious and conservative views on a country with strong secular traditions. His critics have accused him of running a heavily lopsided, unfair campaign, using the assets available to him through his office as prime minister to dominate media exposure and travel across the country. His office has rejected these claims. ‘Erdogan did not win a victory today, he moved to (the presidential palace of) Çankaya through chicanery, cheating, deception and trickery,’ said Devlet Bahçeli, head of the Nationalist Action Party which backed Erdogan’s main rival, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. ‘This person is too questionable and dubious to be seen as president,’ he said. With % 99 of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan had % 51.9 of the vote, according to figures from the state-run Anadolu news agency, which had reporters at ballot counting stations across the country. İhsanoğlu had % 38.3 and the third candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, had % 9.7. İhsanoğlu, the 70-year-old former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and a political newcomer, conceded defeat in a brief speech in Istanbul. ‘I hope that the result is beneficial for democracy in Turkey,’ he said. ‘I congratulate the prime minister and wish him success.’ Official results were expected Monday.”
“‘The result was not a surprise. Opinion polls had indicated that Erdogan would obtain around % 54 to % 58 of the vote. He had dominated the election campaign,’ said Fadi Hakura, an associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank in London. ‘Mr. Erdogan will perceive this result as a decisive mandate to push ahead with his plans for an executive form of presidency,’ he said. Erdogan has vowed to transform the presidency from a largely ceremonial post into a powerful position — something his detractors say proves he is bent on a power grab. He has said he will activate the post’s rarely used dormant powers — a legacy of a 1980 coup — including the ability to call parliament and summon and preside over Cabinet meetings. Hakura said the result would not alter Turkey’s course. ‘Nothing will change much,’ he said. ‘Neither his style of governance, neither domestic policy nor Turkey’s external policy.’ Legislator Hüseyin Çelik, the AKP spokesman, said the party — which now must elect a new party leader and designate a prime minister to replace Erdogan — would hold a meeting during the night and another on Monday. Erdogan is widely expected to appoint a compliant prime minister so he can continue to exert control. Party rules barred Erdogan from serving another term as prime minister. Turkish presidents used to be elected by parliament but Erdogan’s government pushed through a constitutional amendment in 2007, changing the procedure to a popular vote. Yet the past year-and-a-half has been a turbulent one for Erdogan, who faced widespread anti-government protests in 2013 triggered by a violent police crackdown on demonstrators objecting to a construction plan in central Istanbul. More anti-government protests erupted in May after 301 miners died in a coal mine fire blamed on shoddy safety practices. Erdogan and his son have also been implicated in a corruption scandal that he has dismissed as a coup plot by a moderate Islamic preacher and former ally living in the United States, Fethullah Gülen. Dozens of judicial and police officials involved in the probe against him have been dismissed or re-assigned, and dozens of police have been arrested and jailed. Nevertheless, his popularity clearly endures. He has been credited with Turkey’s good economic performance in recent years, as well as broadening welfare access, Hakura said before the vote. The third reason, he said, was that Erdogan is seen by a large segment of the Turkish population who feel they have been ostracized and marginalized by the previous secular establishment as representing their interests.”
* The Independent:
“Erdogan poised to extend power as new Turkish President”
“Opponents fear new role will see Prime Minister become more authoritarian. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was declared the winner in his country’s first presidential election on Sunday, as voters backed his dream of a ‘new Turkey’ that his opponents say will result in an increasingly authoritarian nation. An unofficial vote count indicated that Mr. Erdogan would claim victory in the first round, avoiding the need for a run-off ballot. He received about % 52 of the votes cast while his main rival, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, got about % 38 and the third candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, won just under % 10. ‘It is understood that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won an absolute majority of the votes,’ the election commission head, Sadi Guven, said in Ankara. The official results will be announced today. Mr. İhsanoğlu conceded defeat in a brief speech in Istanbul. ‘I hope that the result is beneficial for democracy in Turkey,’ he said. ‘I congratulate the Prime Minister and wish him success.'”
* The Sun Daily:
“Erdogan wins Turkish presidency, wows new era”
“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday won the Turkish presidency in an easy election triumph, promising a ‘new era’ with him as a powerful head of state despite fears the country is creeping towards one-man rule. With Turkey still deeply polarised after bitter 2013 protests, Erdogan has vowed to shake up the country’s political system to make the president its number one figure. He won 52 % of the vote, according to a count of % 99 of ballots. That was way ahead of his main opposition rival Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, on % 38.3 and means there will be no second round. The third contender, Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, won % 9.7 of the vote. Erdogan’s inauguration is set for August 28. The result marked a personal triumph for Erdogan, 60, who has served as premier since 2003 and could potentially be president for two mandates, until 2024. Thousands of people filled central Istanbul waving Turkish flags and holding Erdogan pictures to celebrate his victory as fireworks lit up the sky above the capital Ankara. ‘Today we are closing an era and taking the first step for a new era,’ Erdogan said in a victory speech from the balcony of his party headquarters in Ankara, describing the election as a ‘historic day’. ‘It is not only Recep Tayyip Erdogan who won today. Today, national will has won once again. Today, democracy has won once again,’ he declared. He promised a ‘new social reconciliation process’ where all Turks of whatever origin or belief would be equal citizens of the country.”
“Nevertheless, the margin of victory was narrower than expected by some analysts and the vote of İhsanoğlu held up despite a low-key campaign that was dwarfed by Erdogan’s drive for votes. The polls were the first time Turkey — a member of NATO and long-time hopeful to join the EU — has directly elected its president, who was previously chosen by parliament, and Erdogan hoped for a massive show of popular support. Erdogan has said he plans to revamp the post to give the presidency greater executive powers, which could see Turkey shift towards a system more like that of France if his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) succeeds in changing the constitution. But Erdogan’s opponents accuse him of undermining the secular legacy of Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who established a strict separation between religion and politics when he forged the new state from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. ‘It is not İhsanoğlu who lost the elections, but the longing for clean and honest politics and a quest for democracy,’ said Haluk Koç, the spokesman for the Republican People’s Party which backed İhsanoğlu, denouncing Erdogan’s ‘oppressive mind-set’. İhsanoğlu — a bookish former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — conceded defeat and offered his congratulations to Erdogan but insisted his campaign had made an impact.”
“While many secular Turks detest Erdogan, he can still count on a huge base of support from religiously conservative middle-income voters, particularly in central Turkey and poorer districts of Istanbul, who have prospered under his rule. Regional breakdowns of the results showed a clear geographical polarisation of the country, with İhsanoğlu taking the strongly secular western coast, Demirtaş the Kurdish southeast but Erdogan the Black Sea coast, Istanbul and the entire heart of the country. Demirtaş, 41, hoped to attract votes not just from Kurds but also secular Turks with a left-wing, pro-gay and pro-women’s rights message. His charisma, flashing grin and fondness for white shirts with rolled-up sleeves have earned him the moniker ‘the Kurdish Obama’ in some quarters. His respectable result may provide a springboard for Turkey’s next political battle, legislative elections in 2015 and Demirtaş expressed hope his People’s Democratic Party (HDP) would gain mass appeal.”
* The Telegraph:
“Turkey election: Recep Tayyip Erdogan secures win in drive for power”
“Turkish strongman cements role as the nation’s leader for the next five years. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, secured a historic win in the country’s first presidential elections on Sunday night, cementing his role as the nation’s leader for the next five years. With almost all the votes counted, Mr. Erdogan led with % 52 points ahead of his main opponent, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a Turkish diplomat with a low domestic profile, who held % 38.8 of the ballots. ‘I hope the final whistle will be blown by the referee, but the stands have made their decision. The people have shown their will,’ Mr. Erdogan told crowds of supporters at a convention centre in Istanbul, from where he will fly to the capital Ankara. The election marks the first stage of an ambitious plan by Mr. Erdogan to transform Turkey’s government into one led by presidential politics, with himself as leader. The country’s president has traditionally been cowed to the powers of the prime minister, and has been a largely ceremonial role. But even in the final hours of his campaign, Mr. Erdogan, 60, who, according to the rules of his own Justice and Development Party must step down as prime minister at the end of his current third term, made no secret of his ambitions.”
“Visiting cities across the country Mr. Erdogan has promised his electorate that the president’s responsibilities will be ‘increased’ and highlighted that it is only convention, not the constitution that puts ‘limits’ on that role. Approximately 53 million voters were eligible to cast their ballots at one of the more than 160,000 stations, but early reports by local media put the turnout at % 72.5, much lower than the municipal election turnout of % 90 earlier this year. Mr. Erdogan has built huge support among the country’s conservative Muslims and provincial constituents, with his economic reforms tripling the per capita income of millions of Turkey’s poor to £5,900 per year and bringing development to inland villages that had previously languished as backwaters.”
“Erdogan’s presidential win starts race for new Turkish government”
“Turkey’s ruling party begins deliberations on the shape of the next government on Monday after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan secured his place in history by winning the nation’s first direct presidential election. Erdogan’s victory in Sunday’s vote takes him a step closer to the executive presidency he has long coveted for Turkey. But it is an outcome which his opponents fear will herald an increasingly authoritarian rule. In the coming weeks, Erdogan will for the last time chair meetings of the ruling AK Party he founded and oversee the selection of a new party leader, likely to be a staunch loyalist and his future prime minister. He will be inaugurated on Aug. 28. ‘Today is a new day, a milestone for Turkey, the birthday of Turkey, of its rebirth from the ashes,’ Erdogan, 60, told thousands of supporters in a victory speech from the balcony of the AK Party headquarters in Ankara late on Sunday. Supporters honking car horns and waving flags took to the streets in Ankara after results on Turkish television said Erdogan, the prime minister for more than a decade, had won % 52 of the vote. The celebratory mood filled the front pages of pro-government newspapers. ‘The People’s Revolution’, said a banner headline in the Akşam daily above a picture of Erdogan waving to the crowds overnight. Other headlines spelled out: ‘Erdogan’s historic triumph’, ‘The People’s President’. Investors initially welcomed the result on hopes that it would ensure political stability, after nearly 12 years of AK Party rule. The lira rallied to 2.1385 against the dollar from 2.1601 late on Friday. However, some said the market reaction could be short-lived. ‘We expect the market will refocus on the composition of the cabinet,’ said Phoenix Kalen, a London-based strategist at Societe Generale, warning there could be ‘investor concern over the future trajectory of economic policy-making’.
“It was a narrower margin of victory than polls had suggested but still 13 points more than Erdogan’s closest rival, and comfortable enough to avoid the need for a second round runoff. The chairman of the High Election Board confirmed Erdogan had a majority, with more than % 99 of votes counted, and said full provisional figures would be released later on Monday. Erdogan has vowed to exercise the full powers granted to the presidency under current laws, unlike predecessors who played a mainly ceremonial role. But he has made no secret of his plans to change the constitution and forge an executive presidency. ‘I want to underline that I will be the president of all 77 million people, not only those who voted for me. I will be a president who works for the flag, for the country, for the people,’ he said in his victory speech. The electoral map suggested that might not be easy. While the expanses of the conservative Anatolian heartlands voted overwhelmingly for Erdogan, the more liberal western Aegean and Mediterranean coastal fringe was dominated by main opposition candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, and the south eastern corner by Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtaş.”
Hacı Mehmet BOYRAZ
– Observer, http://www.theobserver.ca/2014/08/10/turkey-elects-first-president, (11.08.2014).
– BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28729234, (11.08.2014).
– The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/10/turkey-presidential-election-ergodan, (11.08.2014).
– Valley Star, http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/world/article_6d7e0444-6161-5ac8-8918-fb6c4ca2976e.html, (11.08.2014).
– The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/erdogan-poised-to-extend-power-as-new-turkish-president-9660416.html, (11.08.2014).
– The Sun Daily, http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1136892, (11.08.2014).
– Reuters, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/11/uk-turkey-election-idUKKBN0GA06120140811, (11.08.2014).