ISTANBUL, Turkey — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey's first direct presidential election Sunday, consolidating his power base, according to unofficial results.
Erdogan, who has been the principal force in Turkish politics for more than a decade, had been heavily favored to triumph despite missteps over the past year that have alienated many voters outside of his religiously conservative base. He faced two far lesser-known opponents.
With 99 percent of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan had 52 percent of the vote, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Erdogan, in his third term as prime minister, would have been forced by party rules to step down at the end of that tenure had he not opted to instead seek a five-year presidential term. He will become the longest-serving leader of the country since the father of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Erdogan has vowed to transform the presidency from a largely ceremonial post into a powerful position. "I will not be the president of only those who voted for me, I will be the president of 77 million," Erdogan, 60, said in a victory speech in Ankara.
Erdogan's Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party was hit this year by a corruption scandal, and he has angered Turkey's more liberal elements with authoritarian measures such as a crackdown on protesters. But over the past decade, he has put Turkey on the economic map, presiding over an unprecedented period of growth. To entrepreneurial-minded supporters he empowered, that trumps any failings.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.