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Turkey

After Erdogan's victory: What's next for Turkey?

Erdogan's victory by direct election has ushered in a new era in Turkish politics. Opponents fear the newly elected president might hold early parliamentary elections to achieve the constitutional changes he is after.

In his victory speech in Ankara, the newly elected president claimed he would be a president for all Turks, including those who did not vote for him. Erdogan called for "new social reconciliation" and pleaded for a presidential system to be implemented by making changes to the constitution.

The head of state, who currently in Turkey fulfils representative tasks, is expected to receive new powers in the future. Beginning immediately, the president and government will work hand-in-hand, Erdogan said in front of thousands of enthusiastic supporters.

His statements have unsettled his opponents. Under the "Erdogan system," they say, there would be nothing left to slow the powerful man at the top. Serious injustices should be feared, warned opposition columnist Hasan Cemal on the internet site T24.

Seeking a strong majority

Preliminary results put Erdogan at having received just 52 percent of the votes. Considered symbolically, that's not a strong enough victory to implement his presidential plans and constitutional changes, opinion researcher Murat Gezici told DW in an interview. The relatively low voter turnout, roughly 75 percent, is a further obstacle for Erdogan, according to Gezici. The 60-year-old said before the election he expected turnout to be near 90 percent - of which he would receive up to 57 percent of the vote himself.

Erdogan benefited in the election from the weaknesses of his primary opponent Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who had been nominated by the largest opposition parties, the secular Republican People's Party, and the Nationalist Movement. According to electoral analysis by the Turkish media, many Nationalist Movement voters drifted to Erdogan, while large numbers of Republican Peoples Party members simply stayed home on election day.

Supporters in Istanbul cheer for Erdogan

Throngs of supporters cheer for Erdogan in Istanbul

After the election, more decisions to come

With the election behind him, Erdogan will first turn his attention to his conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP). With the changing of the party and government leadership in the presidential office, a new chairperson and prime minister are needed. Erdogan must select both officials before he officially takes power on August 28.

The new man leading party and government - female candidates are nowhere in sight - will most notably have the responsibility of leading the AKP in parliamentary elections expected to be held in June, 2015. For the first time since its inception in 2001, the AKP will contest the elections without its key figure Erdogan. Opinion researcher Gezici is predicting heavy losses for the governing party. In the last parliamentary elections in 2011, the party had its best result with nearly 50 percent of the vote.

Aiming for constitutional changes

However, Sahin Alpay, political scientist at Istabul's Bahcesehir University and a critic of Erdogan's, notes the new president could institute early elections. Erdogan has since denied he was planning on holding parliamentary elections this year after broad speculation on the subject in the Turkish Media.

Alpay remains skeptical. "Erdogan wants to institute the constitutional changes he is seeking as quickly as possible," the political expert told DW in an interview. Alpay added that the goal is therefore to secure at least 330 seats for the AKP in parliament. Currently, it holds 313. Having 330 seats would grant the party a three-fifths majority, allowing the AKP to call for a referendum on the constitutional changes that would be necessary to bolster the president's powers.

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