Erdogan wins re-election in Turkey’s presidential election

- Advertisement -

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan won re-election on Sunday, extending his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade in a country reeling from high inflation and the aftermath of an earthquake that levelled entire cities.

With more than 99% of ballot boxes opened, unofficial results from competing news agencies showed Mr Erdogan with 52% of the vote, compared with 48% for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

The head of Turkey’s electoral board confirmed the victory, saying that even after accounting for outstanding votes, the result was another term for Mr Erdogan.

“I thank each member of our nation for entrusting me with the responsibility to govern this country once again for the upcoming five years,” he said.

He ridiculed his challenger for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal”, as supporters booed.

“The only winner today is Turkey,” Mr Erdogan said. He promised to work hard for Turkey’s second century. The country marks its centennial this year.

Turkey Election
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Mr Kilicdaroglu said the election was “the most unjust ever”, with all state resources mobilised for Mr Erdogan.

“We will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle until real democracy comes to our country,” he said in Ankara.

He thanked the more than 25 million people who voted for him and asked them to “remain upright”.

The people have shown their will “to change an authoritarian government despite all the pressures”, he said.

Supporters of the divisive populist were celebrating even before the final results arrived, waving Turkish or ruling party flags, and honking car horns, chanting his name and “in the name of God, God is great”.

Mr Erdogan will have an even stronger hand domestically and internationally, and the election results will have implications far beyond Ankara.

Turkey stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and it plays a key role in Nato.

Turkey Election
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has extended his rule into a third decade (Khalil Hamra/AP)

But it also helped broker a crucial deal that allowed Ukrainian grain shipments and averted a global food crisis.

Mr Erdogan, who has been at Turkey’s helm for 20 years, came just short of victory in the first round of elections on May 14.

It was the first time he failed to win an election outright, but he made up for it Sunday.

His performance came despite crippling inflation and the effects of a devastating earthquake three months ago.

APTOPIX Turkey Election
Supporters celebrate outside AKP offices in Istanbul (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Other congratulations came from in from Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Libya, Algeria, Serbia and Uzbekistan.

The two candidates offered sharply different visions of the country’s future, and its recent past.

Critics blame Mr Erdogan’s unconventional economic policies for skyrocketing inflation that has fuelled a cost-of-living crisis.

Many also blamed his government for a slow response to the earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey.

In the mainly Kurdish-populated province of Diyarbakir, one of 11 regions that was hit by the February 6 earthquake,  Mustafa Yesil, 60, said he voted for “change”.

“I’m not happy at all with the way this country is going. Let me be clear, if this current administration continues, I don’t see good things for the future,” he said. “I see that it will end badly, this administration has to change.”

Mehmet Yurttas, an Erdogan supporter, disagreed.

“I believe that our homeland is at the peak, in a very good condition,” the shop owner, 57, said. “Our country’s trajectory is very good and it will continue being good.”

Mr Erdogan has retained the backing of conservative voters who remain devoted to him for lifting Islam’s profile in Turkey, which was founded on secular principles, and for raising the country’s influence in world politics.

Mr Erdogan, 69, could remain in power until 2028.

Turkey Elections Issues
Destroyed buildings in Nurdagi after the earthquake in south-east Turkey (Khalil Hamra/AP)

He transformed the presidency from a largely ceremonial role to a powerful office through a narrowly won 2017 referendum that scrapped Turkey’s parliamentary system of governance.

He was the first directly elected president in 2014, and won the 2018 election that ushered in the executive presidency.

The first half of his tenure included reforms that allowed the country to begin talks to join the European Union, and economic growth that lifted many out of poverty.

But he later suppressed freedoms and the media and concentrated more power in his own hands, especially after a failed coup attempt that Turkey says was orchestrated by the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. The cleric denies involvement.

Mr Erdogan’s rival is a soft-mannered former civil servant who has led the pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, since 2010.

Mr Kilicdaroglu campaigned on promises to reverse Mr Erdogan’s democratic backsliding, to restore the economy by reverting to more conventional policies, and to improve ties with the West.

In an effort to reach out to nationalist voters in the runoff, Mr Kilicdaroglu vowed to send back refugees and ruled out peace negotiations with Kurdish militants if he was elected.

His defeat adds to a long list of electoral losses to Mr Erdogan, and puts pressure on him to step down as party chairman.

Mr Erdogan’s AKP party and its allies retained a majority of seats in parliament following a legislative election that was also held on May 14.

Sunday also marked the 10th anniversary of the start of mass anti-government protests that broke out over plans to uproot trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, and became one of the most serious challenges to Mr Erdogan’s government.

Turkey Election
Supporters celebrate in Istanbul (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Following the May 14 vote, international observers pointed to the criminalisation of dissemination of false information and online censorship as evidence that Mr Erdogan had an “unjustified advantage”.

They also said that strong turnout showed the resilience of Turkish democracy.

Mr Erdogan and pro-government media portrayed Mr Kilicdaroglu, who received the backing of the country’s pro-Kurdish party, as colluding with “terrorists” and of supporting what they described as “deviant” LGBTQ rights.

In his victory speech, he repeated those themes, saying LGBTQ people cannot “infiltrate” his ruling party or its nationalist allies.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.