Turkey Chooses PM as First Elected President

Critics fear Erdogan power grab

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 11, 2014 1:47 AM CDT

(Newser) – Turkey's first directly elected president is no stranger to winning Turkish elections: Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the country's prime minister since 2003. He is barred from seeking a fourth term as PM, and although the post of president has been a largely ceremonial one until now, he is expected to maximize the post's powers in what critics see as a power grab that could turn Turkey into an authoritarian state, reports the Guardian. Before this election, Turkey's president was chosen by parliamentary vote.

The 60-year-old ran a bitterly divisive campaign but sounded conciliatory in his victory speech, the AP reports. "Today the national will won once again, today democracy won once again," he said. "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 vote—like recent surveys—found the country split around 50/50 on Erdogan. "He is power happy and arrogant, serving only half of the population that supports him, while the other half he deems irrelevant," a voter in Istanbul tells the New York Times.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan salutes supporters after his election victory in Ankara yesterday.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan salutes supporters after his election victory in Ankara yesterday.   (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
A member of security watches as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks to a crowd in downtown Istanbul last night.
A member of security watches as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks to a crowd in downtown Istanbul last night.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Supporters celebrate the election victory of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara yesterday.
Supporters celebrate the election victory of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara yesterday.   (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
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