Erdogan, ally of Hamas, wins first direct presidential election in Turkey

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey and an ally of Hamas, won his country’s first direct presidential election.

Erdogan garnered more than half the vote on Sunday in the first round of balloting, according to reports.

He has made repeated Israel-Nazi comparisons during the current Israel conflict in Gaza with Hamas, a group with which he has formed close ties.

“Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism,” he said late last month.

Erdogan also promised to keep Turkey’s Jewish citizens safe, but urged them to denounce Israel.

With nearly all the votes counted, Erdogan had 52 percent, Reuters reported, citing a tweet from the office of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag. The results are expected to be announced on Monday.

Turkish presidents previously were elected to a five-year term by parliament.

The move to a popular vote came though a constitutional amendment approved by Erdogan’s government. Erdogan was prohibited from serving another term as prime minister.

Erdogan heads the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which calls itself a conservative democratic party, though its roots are in Islamism.