Outgoing Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the country's first direct presidential election, according to preliminary results. 

With nearly all the votes counted, Erdogan had won about 52 percent of the vote and his nearest rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, had attained 38 percent. To avoid a second round of voting, Erdogan needed at least half of the ballots cast. 

"The people showed their will at the polls today," said Erdogan. 

Erdogan, who has been prime minster since 2003 and had reached his term limits, is expected to strengthen the role of the president in Turkey's political system. To this point, it had largely been a ceremonial role. 

Erdogan's tenure as prime minister has been celebrated for generally boosting the country's economy, but critics have shown concern for what they see as an authoritarian approach and a willingness to support Islamist tendencies in a secular state