Turkish politician Erdogan says he could still win as a runoff in the presidential election is likely


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who did that ruled his country for 20 years with an increasingly tight gripwas embroiled in a close electoral race on Sunday that could see a crucial runoff against its main rival after the final votes were counted.

The results will decide whether a NATO ally spanning Europe and Asia but bordering Syria and Iran remains under Erdogan’s control within days or after a second round of voting in two weeks, or resumes the more democratic path he promised strikes main rival, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Speaking to supporters in Ankara, Erdogan, 69, said he could still win but would respect the nation’s decision if there was a runoff in two weeks.

“We do not yet know whether the elections ended in the first ballot. … If our country has opted for a second ballot, that’s also welcome,” Erdogan said early on Monday, pointing out that votes from Turkish citizens living abroad are still needed to be counted. In 2018 he received 60% of the votes abroad.

This year’s election focused mostly on domestic issues such as the economy, civil rights and an earthquake in February that killed more than 50,000 people. But Western nations and foreign investors also awaited the outcome because of Erdogan’s sometimes unpredictable economic leadership and his efforts to put Turkey at the center of international negotiations.

With the unofficial count almost complete, voter support for the incumbent had fallen below the majority needed for his full re-election. According to the state news agency Anadolu, Erdogan won 49.6% of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of a six-party coalition, received 44.7% of the vote.

Turkey’s electoral authority, the Supreme Electoral Body, said it will provide figures to competing political parties “immediately” and will publish the results once the count is complete and complete.

According to the body, the majority of the ballot papers of the 3.4 million eligible voters abroad still have to be counted, and a runoff election on May 28 is not certain.

Erdogan was praised in his first decade as head of state for turning Turkey into an economic and political success story, but over the past decade he has faced increasing criticism at home and abroad for suppressing dissent and Adoption of rules and laws typical of autocratic regimes.

Turkey, once a poster child for developing countries, is also currently struggling with high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, which opponents and economists regularly blame on Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies.

Supporters of Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the presidential candidate of Turkey's largest opposition alliance, react after early exit polls at the Republican People's Party (CHP) headquarters May 14, 2023 in Ankara, Turkey.
Supporters of Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the presidential candidate of Turkey’s largest opposition alliance, react after early exit polls at the Republican People’s Party (CHP) headquarters May 14, 2023 in Ankara, Turkey.

BK/Getty Images

Erdogan’s main competitor, KiIicdaroglu, is a secular social democratic politician who has focused on messages of freedom and democracy during the election campaign. The opposition alliance he represents has promised to reverse constitutional changes introduced after a 2017 referendum The President’s powers have been greatly expandedand restore the parliamentary system.

Erdogan has ruled Turkey since 2003 as either prime minister or president. Opinion polls conducted in the run-up to the election had shown that the increasingly authoritarian leader was just behind his challenger.

With the partial results showing otherwise, members of Kilicdaroglu’s center-left, pro-secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) disputed Anadolu’s original figures, claiming the state agency was biased in favor of Erodgan.

“We’re ahead,” tweeted 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu, who ran as the candidate of a six-party opposition coalition.

While Erdogan hopes to win a five-year term that would take him well into his third decade as Turkey’s leader, Kilicdaroglu campaigned on promises to reverse suppression of free speech and other forms of democratic backsliding and one of the crisis troubled economy to repair inflation and currency devaluation.

Voters also chose lawmakers to fill Turkey’s 600-seat parliament, which lost much of its legislative power after Erdogan’s executive presidency. The opposition has promised to return Turkey’s system of government to a parliamentary democracy if it wins both the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Anadolu News Agency said that Erdogan’s government alliance is around 49.3%, while Kilicdaroglu’s national alliance is around 35.2% and support for a pro-Kurdish party is over 10%.

“The fact that the election results are not yet known does not change the fact that the nation elected us,” said Erdogan.

More than 64 million people were eligible to vote, including 3.4 million foreign voters. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Turkey’s founding as a republic – a modern, secular state that emerged from the rubble of the Ottoman Empire.

Voter turnout in Turkey has traditionally been high, but since an attempted coup in 2016 the government has suppressed freedom of expression and assembly. Erdogan blamed the failed coup on supporters of former ally cleric Fethullah Gülen and launched a full-scale crackdown on officials with alleged links to Gülen and pro-Kurdish politicians.

Internationally, the elections were seen as a test of a united opposition’s ability to oust a leader who had concentrated almost all powers of state in his hands and worked to wield more influence on the world stage.

Erdogan, along with the United Nations, helped broker an agreement with Ukraine and Russia that allowed Ukrainian grain to reach the rest of the world from Black Sea ports, despite Russia’s war in Ukraine. The deal expires in a few days and Turkey held talks last week to keep it in place.

The war in Ukraine inspired Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership to guard against possible Russian aggression. But Erdogan has delayed Sweden’s entry into the alliance and has demanded concessions. He argued that the country was too lenient towards supporters of the US-based cleric and members of pro-Kurdish groups that Turkey sees as a threat to national security.

Critics claim the president’s intransigent style is responsible for a painful cost-of-living crisis. The latest official statistics put inflation at around 44%, down from a peak of around 86%. The price of vegetables became a campaign issue for the opposition, which used an onion as a symbol.

Officials count ballots at a polling station on Sunday, May 14, 2023, during the presidential and parliamentary elections in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, Turkey.
Officials count ballots at a polling station on Sunday, May 14, 2023, during the presidential and parliamentary elections in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, Turkey.


Contrary to mainstream economic thinking, Erdogan claims that high interest rates fuel inflation and he pressured the Republic of Turkey’s central bank to cut its interest rate several times.

Erdogan’s government has also been criticized for its allegedly delayed and stunted response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that wreaked havoc in 11 southern provinces. Lax implementation of building codes is believed to have exacerbated the death toll and misery.

In his election campaign, Erdogan used state funds and his dominant position over the media to woo voters. He accused the opposition of collaborating with “terrorists”, being “drunkards” and upholding LGBTQ+ rights, which he says pose a threat to traditional family values ​​in the predominantly Muslim nation.

To secure support for citizens hit hard by inflation, he increased wages and pensions, subsidized electricity and gas bills, while presenting Turkey’s domestic defense and infrastructure projects.

Kilicdaroglu’s six-member Nation Alliance pledged to abolish the executive presidential system, restore judiciary and central bank independence, and reverse repression of free speech and other forms of democratic backsliding in Turkey.

At the polling stations, many voters struggled to fold bulky ballots – on which 24 political parties competed for seats in Parliament – ​​and put them in envelopes along with the ballot for the presidency.

“It is important for Turkey. It is important for the people,” said Necati Aktuna, a voter in Ankara. “I’ve been voting for 60 years. I have not seen a more important choice than this one.”

“We all missed democracy so much. We all missed being together,” Kilicdaroglu said after the vote at a school in Ankara, where his supporters shouted “President Kilicdaroglu!”

Also running for president is Sinan Ogan, a former academic backed by an anti-immigrant nationalist party.

Almost 9 million people were eligible to vote in the 11 provinces affected by the earthquake. About three million people left the earthquake area and moved to other provinces, but only 133,000 people registered to vote in their new locations.

Erdogan said the vote went “without any problems”, including in the provinces hit by the earthquake.

“I hope that after the count of the evening … there will be a brighter future for our country, our nation and Turkish democracy,” Erdogan said.

In Diyarbakir, a Kurdish-majority city hit by the earthquake, Ramazan Akcay arrived at his polling station early to cast his ballot.

“God willing, it will be a democratic election,” he said. “May it be of use on behalf of our country.”

Source link

Leave a Comment