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Turkey’s Erdogan claims victory in presidential election

However, the main opposition party said it was too early to concede defeat and said it believed Erdogan could still fall short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff on July 8.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular but also the most divisive politician in modern Turkish history, later waved to cheering, flag-waving supporters from the top of a bus in Istanbul.

Sunday’s vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

An unexpectedly strong showing by the AK Party’s alliance partner, the nationalist MHP, could translate into a stable parliamentary majority Erdogan seeks to govern freely.

Turkey held Sunday’s elections under a state of emergency declared after a failed military coup in July 2016. This limits some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees. Both Erdogan and Ince have said they will lift the state of emergency as president.

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