Tayyip Erdogan secured his place in history as Turkey's first directly elected head of state on Sunday, taking him a step closer to the presidential system he covets in a result his opponents fear heralds an increasingly authoritarian rule.
Supporters honking car horns and waving flags took to the streets in the capital Ankara after results on Turkish television said Erdogan, the prime minister for more than a decade, had won 52 percent of the vote, 13 points more than his closest rival and avoiding the need for a second round runoff.
The chairman of the High Election Board confirmed Erdogan had a majority, with more than 99 percent of votes counted, and said full provisional figures would be announced on Monday.
"Today is a new day, a milestone for Turkey, the birthday of Turkey, of its rebirth from the ashes," Erdogan, 60, told thousands of supporters in a victory speech from the balcony of his ruling AK Party headquarters in Ankara.
"I want to underline that I will be the president of all 77 million people, not only those who voted for me. I will be a president who works for the flag, for the country, for the people," he said, vowing a "period of reconciliation" and chastising those who accuse him of being dictatorial.
Turkey has emerged as a regional economic force under Erdogan, who has ridden a wave of religiously conservative support to transform the secular republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the ruins of the Ottoman empire in 1923.
But his critics warn that a President Erdogan, with his roots in political Islam and intolerance of dissent, would lead the NATO member and European Union candidate further away from Ataturk's secular ideals.
After his victory is officially confirmed, Erdogan will be sworn in as president on Aug. 28. The AK Party was to begin meeting shortly to start deciding on candidates to replace him as premier and party leader. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is seen as a leading candidate.
Erdogan's main rival in Sunday's election, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a former diplomat and academic who won 38.5 percent of the vote according to broadcasters CNN Turk and NTV, congratulated Erdogan on the result in a brief statement.
Selahattin Demirtas took 9.7 percent, according to the TV stations - a result for an ethnic Kurd that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago as Turkey battled a Kurdish rebellion and sought to quell demands from the ethnic minority.