Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in a tightly contested presidential election that left him poised for an unprecedented third presidential term.
Mr Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey as prime minister and president since 2002, told cheering supporters in Istanbul he would stay with them “through thick and thin” after initial vote counts put him on course for a narrow victory over Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Turkey’s chief electoral official later confirmed Mr Erdogan won 52 per cent of the vote to Mr Kilicdaroglu’s 48 per cent in the country’s first-ever run-off.
Speaking outside his house on the Asian side of Istanbul, an ecstatic Mr Erdogan hailed the elections as a “feast of democracy” but failed to mention that he lost in the country’s three largest cities including Istanbul.
“I thank each and every citizen of our nation who once again entrusted us with the responsibility of governing the country for the next five years,” he said as jubilant supporters burnt flares outside his party’s office in Istanbul and raised hands in a Muslim salute.
“We will be together through thick and thin. We said this love will not end here, right?”
The 69 year-old also hinted at the continuation of an assertive foreign policy as he said “no one can wag their finger at Turkey”.
Mr Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, in a concession speech hailed about 25 million people who voted not only for him but for the promise to stem Turkey’s further decline into an autocracy.
“The main reason for my sadness is the much bigger problems that are in store for this country,” he said at the party headquarters in Ankara. “Our march will continue. We’re not going away,” he said.
Both camps have portrayed the elections as a pivotal moment in the country’s history that could either cement Mr Erdogan’s conservative and authoritarian tilt or give Turkey a chance towards rebuilding a democratic society.
For Ali Gorgulu, a retired man from Istanbul’s historic Sultan Ahmet district, Mr Erdogan has delivered an impressive economic growth in recent years and should be given another chance even though the country posted record-high inflation last year amid a cost-of-living crisis.
“If Erdogan has been in power for 20 years that means he can do it and that people support him,” Mr Gorgulu told The Telegraph outside a primary school tucked away in a side street five minutes away from the Blue Mosque, one of Istanbul’s top landmarks.
For the first time since Mr Erdogan was elected, the opposition has been able to unite around one candidate, Mr Kilicdaroglu, the soft-spoken bureaucrat who was nominated by six major opposition parties.
Mr Erdogan's supporters flocked to polling stations, delivering an impressive overall turnout of 84 per cent even though many of them had been upset by Mr Kilicdaroglu’s underwhelming performance two weeks earlier.
“I’ve seen people lose their hope,” Mikail, a 32-year-old hotel owner, said, adding that some of his opposition-minded friends were too depressed they stayed at home or even went away on holiday “so that they wouldn’t be here to see all this”.
“It’s not a good feeling that you can’t do anything about it but what else can I do?” he said.
The result was welcomed by Vladimir Putin of Russia, wrote in a letter to his "dear friend" Mr Erdogan that the outcome of the election was the "natural result of your selfless work as head of the Republic of Turkey".
Early statements of congratulations also came in from Ibrahim Raisi, the president of Iran, and Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar.
Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, was the first European leader to congratulate Mr Erdogan on what he called "an unquestionable" election victory.