President-elect Erdogan: A new era starts today in Turkey

Turkey's Erdogan thanks supporters for electing him as Turkey's 12th president in his "balcony speech," adding national will and democracy won in Sunday's elections.

President-elect Erdogan: A new era starts today in Turkey

World Bulletin/News Desk

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan thanked supporters for electing him as Turkey's 12th president on Sunday, claiming victory in the nation's first popular vote for head of state.

"Today it is not Recep Tayyip Erdogan who won this election, it is the national will, democracy," Erdogan told thousands of supporters in his first speech as president-elect from the balcony of his ruling AK Party headquarters in Ankara.

"We are closing one era and moving forward to a new one."

"Today national will and democracy have prevailed again… Today, greater Turkey has prevailed again... With the president being elected by popular vote, obstacles between Cankaya [the presidential palace] and the public have been lifted," he said, striking a conciliatory tone after a tense campaign period.

"Our political views, lifestyles, beliefs and ethnicities can be different, but we are all offspring of this country. We are all owners of this state... I will embrace all 70 million [Turks] as president."

The vote has been seen as a milestone in Turkish politics as Turks are electing their president by a popular vote for the first time in the country's history, bringing the office a new legitimacy.

President-elect Erdogan said "not just Turkey but Baghdad, Islamabad, Kabul, Damascus, Aleppo, Ramallah, Gaza and Jerusalem won today" and "the only loser was the status quo."

Erdogan added he wants to start a new period of social reconciliation as president.

"The people who did not vote for us, who do not approve of us and do not like us, have not lost this election. They have also won today. I say this from the heart. Let's start a new social reconciliation period today and let's leave the old discussions in the old Turkey," Erdogan said, and called on nation to 'establish a strong Turkey together.'

'Those who accuse us of dictatorship should sincerely question themselves,' added Erdogan and said he will become 'the president of all the people in Turkey.' 

Erdogan also said Turkey beginning to transfer wounded Palestinians from Gaza for treatment as of tonight.

"Hopefully starting tonight, we are beginning to transfer our wounded Palestinian brothers to Turkey," Erdogan announced.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Reuters in an interview last Wednesday that Turkey was seeking Israeli and Egyptian agreement for an air corridor to evacuate possibly thousands of injured Palestinians.

"Strong presidency"

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's outright victory in Sunday's presidential election has given him the chance he sought to act as a “performer, active and hard-working" chief executive.

“With this percentage of the vote, Erdogan can go further toward realizing the new role for the Turkısh president which he spoke about in his rallies,” Hatem Ete, the coordinator of political research at SETA Foundation, a Turkish think tank, said late Sunday.

During his campaign, in which he held 30 rallies in major cities, Erdogan spoke of a presidency that would be more powerful and active than in the past.

“I will be an active president if elected,” he said during his vision meeting -- a statement of his platform -- which was held on July 11.

“Today’s political dynamics are completely different than the past," Erdogan said, according to the ruling AK Party's official website. "Today’s world is a world of expansion, equality and pluralism. New Turkey will continue to proceed on this path and grow even stronger. New Turkey will reassume its role as the center of civilizations with its self-confident, independent, responsible and virtuous people embracing each other.”

Until now, Turkish presidents have performed largely ceremonial functions, but Erdogan promised that he would be a stronger, more active and harder-working president.

“From now on, the AK Party, the Turkish government and the presidency will act in unison” Ete said. “An organic link will be seen between the AK Party and the Turkish presidency”.

Erdogan described what he called "New Turkey" during his vision speech, saying “New Turkey relies on three fundamental principles: Democratic politics, open society and rule of law. Our state philosophy is based on the following principle: Empower the people to empower the state.”

Fuat Keyman, a Turkish political scientist, said Erdogan will enhance the powers of the presidency even further than in the past.

“The outgoing president, Abdullah Gul, was also a very active one, making many international visits, commenting on the hot topics during his term, but Erdogan wants to move it forward," said Keyman. "A more active role, as Erdogan contemplates, requires the president to have more authority in economics, foreign policy and administration.” 

Keyman said in advance of the election that an outright victory Sunday would be important to Erdogan. If he avoided a run-off, Keyman predicted, Erdogan would push for early parliamentary elections -- and then constitutional change to the parliamentary system. 

However, Ete said he believed Erdogan would not push to change Turkey's 1980 Constitution, which does not allow a semi-presidential or presidential system.

“Erdogan wants harmony between the Turkish President and presidency, and a constitutional amendment and early election are not his table right now,” Ete said.

Either way, Erdogan promises to be an activist president.

"If I'm elected, I will not be an impartial president," he said during the campaign. "There are two sides: the state and the nation. I will be on the side of the nation."

“We are not electing a flower pot for the display window of the state but a president who will administer the state, be a commander-in-chief and enable a smooth functioning of the state institutions," he said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Ağustos 2014, 00:10

Muhammed Öylek