Victory in the presidential election for Recep Tayyip Erdogan has secured his place in history as Turkey’s first directly elected head of state.

The win moves the country one step closer to the presidential system Erdogan would like, something his opponents fear will lead to more authoritarian rule.

In an unusually conciliatory speech, he tried to reassure them.

To the thousands of supporters gathered in front of the AK party headquarters in the capital Ankara he said: “Let’s start a new social reconciliation period today and let’s leave the old discussions in the old Turkey.”

Erdogan replied to critics who have warned his roots in political Islam and intolerance of dissent mean Turkey is in danger of moving away from the secular ideals on which it was founded: “Those who call us dictators. Look at yourselves. Those who called us authoritarian. Look at yourselves.”

Erdogan’s core supporters, religious conservatives, see his victory as the crowning achievement of his drive to reshape Turkey and break the hold of a secular elite.

After his victory is officially confirmed, Erdogan will be sworn in as president for a five-year term on August 28.

By getting more than 50 percent of the vote he avoided the need for a second round runoff against his main challenger Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a former diplomat and academic.

Third place went to an ethnic Kurd candidate, lawyer Selahattin Demirtas, something unthinkable just a few years ago as Turkey battled a Kurdish rebellion.


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