Elections in Turkey

Erdogan wins unprecedented presidential election and on track to lead Turkey for a quarter of a century

The mirage of the first round, where the polls gave a chance to the opposition Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, has dissipated this Sunday in Turkey. The current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has won the second round of an unprecedented presidential election, according to the Turkish electoral authority, and is on his way to lead the country that saw him come to power two decades ago for another five years.

Erdogan has won in a second ballot that came amid suspicions of electoral fraud and with the Turkish economy at a low ebb. With 99.43% of the votes counted, the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) obtained 52.14% of the votes, against 47.86% for Kiliçdaroglu, who led a coalition of six different parties.

After two decades at the head of the country, in which he has been drifting towards an increasingly authoritarian power, this Sunday’s victory makes Erdogan the Turkish leader who has remained in power the longest after the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The result of this historic second date with the polls, although it is the best for the opposition in the Erdogan era, shows that, for now, no one can stand up to the current president, who has not been affected by the country’s delicate economic situation, nor by his criticized management of the earthquakes that devastated southern Turkey in February.

After an election day in which 61 million citizens were called to vote, Erdogan will begin a new legislature with the challenge of lifting an economy mired in inflation.

Erdogan: “The only winner is Turkey”.

Before knowing the final results, the Turkish president has addressed his supporters, who have taken to the streets to celebrate the victory, from the top of a bus in Istanbul. He has thanked his voters for their support, who, after two decades in power, have given him the “responsibility” to lead the country for another five years.

“For the next five years, we have been handed the responsibility of running the country,” Erdogan has said to the cheering crowd. “The only winner is Turkey,” he has assured.

Later, once his victory was confirmed, the president has conveyed the same message to the cheering crowd outside the Presidential Palace headquarters in Ankara. “I am not the only winner, the winner is Turkey and our democracy,” he reiterated in his first mass bath in the capital after his re-election.

Kiliçdaroglu: “It has been the most unfair election in years.”
Still without knowing the final results, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has been able to force a second round for the first time since 2014, when the election of the head of state by direct suffrage was introduced, has accepted his defeat and said that this “has been the most unfair election in years”.

“I ask you to continue fighting for democracy,” said the opposition leader during an appearance at his party’s headquarters. “I have fought for your rights, I have fought so that you can live in prosperity and I will continue to fight,” he said.

He has further said that the results showed the “evident” will to change the authoritarian rule of the people and has assured that he is saddened by “the problems” that await Turkey.

Likewise, two allies of Kiliçdaroglu, the nationalist Meral Aksener and the conservative Ali Babacan, former Minister of Economy under Erdogan’s government and now a dissident of his party, have congratulated the leader of the AKP, recommending him to use with moderation the power he holds.

A historic second round

Turkey has held a second round of presidential elections for the first time, after neither Erdogan nor any other candidate achieved the necessary majority in the first round on May 14.

Despite the fact that before May 14 the polls gave the advantage to Kiliçdaroglu’s opposition, the current Turkish president won, although he did not achieve an absolute majority. For this second ballot, Erdogan did have an advantage, according to the polls.

Kilicdaroglu, who led an alliance of six parties known as the “Table of Six” and ran a more inclusive campaign than Erdogan, had promised to restore governance, restore human rights and restore independence to the courts and the central bank after they had been sidelined for the past decade.

However, after the government alliance won a comfortable majority in Parliament in parliamentary elections, also held on May 14, Erdogan and other political leaders had warned that the opposition would have difficulty governing without the support of the House.

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