ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised the start of a "new era" after winning presidential elections in an easy triumph.
With Turkey still deeply polarised after bitter 2013 protests, Erdogan has vowed to shake up the country's political system to make the president its number one figure.
He won 52.0 per cent in Sunday's vote, according to a count of 99 per cent of ballots. That was way ahead of his main opposition rival Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, on 38.3 per cent, and means there will be no second round.
The third contender, Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas, won 9.7 per cent of the vote. Erdogan's inauguration is set for August 28.
The result marked a personal triumph for Erdogan, 60, who has served as premier since 2003 and could be president for two mandates, until 2024.
Thousands of people filled central Istanbul waving Turkish flags and holding Erdogan pictures to celebrate his victory as fireworks lit up the sky over the capital Ankara.
"Today we are closing an era and taking the first step for a new era," Erdogan said in his victory speech from the balcony of his party headquarters in Ankara, describing the election as a "historic day." "It is not only Recep Tayyip Erdogan who won today. Today, national will has won once again. Today, democracy has won once again," he declared.
He was joined by top party officials and ministers, as well as his headscarf-wearing wife Emine and the president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev.
Erdogan promised a "new social reconciliation process" where all Turks of whatever origin or belief would be equal citizens of the country.
"I will be a president who wholeheartedly embraces 77 million people, as I have done all through my life and all through my political struggle," he said.
The polls were the first time Turkey – a member of NATO and longtime hopeful to join the EU – has directly elected its president, who was previously chosen by parliament, and Erdogan had hoped for a massive show of popular support. — AFP