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Erdogan, 'Turkey has taken first step toward 'new era' '

ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's presidential victor Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his customary post-victory "balcony speech," said Sunday that Turkey had taken the first step towards a "new era." Speaking to a large crowd that chanted its support, Erdogan, Turkey's dominant political figure over the past decade, delivered what has become a tradition for him -- a speech from the balcony of his Justice and Development Party's headquarters in Ankara. Erdogan was elected Sunday by an absolute majority, securing 51.96 percent of the vote, according to unofficial counts. Without giving the exact numbers, the Supreme Election Board confirmed late Sunday that Erdogan had won outright, making a scheduled Aug. 24 run-off election unnecessary.
His term of office will be five years.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the joint candidate of Turkey's two largest opposition parties, claimed 38.33 percent of the vote. Selahattin Demirtas, the candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party, garnered 9.71 percent.
Erdogan expressed his gratitude to the nation for his election as Turkey's 12th president and said the national will and democracy were the victors in the election.
"The only loser in the Sunday's election was the status quo," Erdogan said. "Those who accuse us of dictatorship should sincerely question themselves."
Turkey's president-elect said that those who did not vote for him had won, as well.
"I say from the bottom of my heart, let's start a new social consensus together," Erdogan said, adding that he would be "the president of all the people in Turkey."
At the victory celebration, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev also delivered a speech.
"The old Turkey has gone," Atambaev said. "Turkey is now setting the agenda of the world."
The election was widely seen as a referendum on the Erdogan's leadership as prime minister and head of the ruling party.
More than 53 million Turks were eligible to vote Sunday, and the turnout was at 73 percent according to unofficial results.

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