In a farewell speech to supporters of his AK party, Turkish president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan said its mission to reshape the nation would go on after he left party politics and took office as head of state.
Erdogan's supporters see him as a hero who has restored religious values to public life long dominated by the secular ideals of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the modern republic in 1923. Critics, including Western-facing, secular Turks, fear an increasingly authoritarian state.
Erdogan, who is to be inaugurated as president today, said that yesterday was the birth of a new Turkey.
He dismissed suggestions that a new cabinet led by incoming prime minister and new AK party leader Ahmet Davutoglu would be a "caretaker" government and he made clear its priorities would not deviate from the path he had set as premier.
"What is changing today is the form, not the essence. The mission which our party has assumed, the spirit of its cause, its goals and ideals are not changing," Erdogan said in his last speech as leader of the movement he co-founded 13 years ago.
Erdogan forged the AK party as a coalition of conservative religious Muslims, nationalists and reforming centre-right elements in 2001 in what was later heralded as a potential model for political Islam.
Under the constitution, Erdogan must cut his ties to the party as president, and sceptics question how tightly it can hold together without his rigid leadership.
Thousands of AK faithful attended the party congress in Ankara and thousands more watched the heavily choreographed event, which opened with a film charting Erdogan's political career, on large screens under blazing sunshine outside.
Davutoglu, the outgoing foreign minister, was the only candidate to replace Erdogan as party leader, winning with 1,382 votes. The remaining six votes were ruled invalid.
Davutoglu promised to keep the party united, press ahead with a Kurdish peace process, and maintain Turkey's efforts towards EU membership.
Erdogan has made clear he intends to stay politically active and wield greater power than predecessors, whose role was largely ceremonial.