Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan won sweeping new executive powers on Monday after his victory in landmark elections that also saw his Islamist-rooted AK Party and its nationalist allies secure a majority in parliament.
Erdogan’s main rival, Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), conceded defeat but branded the elections “unjust” and said the presidential system that now takes effect was “very dangerous” because it would lead to one-man rule.
Erdogan, 64, the most popular–yet divisive–leader in modern Turkish history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a NATO member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union.
He is loved by millions of devoutly Muslim working class Turks for delivering years of stellar economic growth and overseeing the construction of roads, bridges, airports, hospitals and schools.
But his critics, including human rights groups, accuse him of destroying the independence of the courts and media freedoms. A crackdown launched after a failed 2016 coup has seen 160,000 people including teachers, journalists and judges detained.