Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his victory in a historic runoff election that posed the toughest challenge of his two-decade rule. “We will rule the country for the next five years,” the president announced to his enthusiastic supporters from atop a bus in his home district of Istanbul.
According to the official Turkish agency Anadoluafter counting almost 99% of the ballots, Erdoganin power for 20 years and at the head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP, Islamoconservative), obtained 52.1% of the votes. For his part, his rival, the Social Democrat Kemal Kiliçdaroglum added 47.9%. The country’s Supreme Electoral Council asked the population to be patient until the publication of the final count.
“Reis”, “sultan”, “hyper-president”: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish leader remains in power
The results confirm the forecasts for this second round, in which the outgoing president arrived as a favoritedespite the desire for change on the part of the electorate, the galloping inflation and the denunciations of the restrictions of freedoms in a country where there are tens of thousands of imprisoned or exiled opponents.
In the first round held on May 14, Erdogan came in first place with 49.5% of the vote compared to 45% of his rival. Given the fact that none of the candidates obtained 50% on that occasion, a second round had to be held, something hitherto unprecedented in the history of Turkey.
Regarding the result of the second round, the president indicated in his first appearance before the population: “We have completed the second round of the presidential elections with the favor of our nation. We have won in such a way that no one has lost. The only winner is Turkey.” And he added: “God willing, we will be worthy of your trust.”
“Our nation has entrusted us with the responsibility of running the country for the next five years,” Erdogan told supporters in Istanbul. “We will keep all our promises”, affirmed the head of state, assuring that “every election is a rebirth.” “These elections have shown that no one can attack the achievements of this nation,” he continued.
For his part, the opposition candidatewhich chairs the Republican People’s Party (CHP, secular) and brings together a coalition of six parties, He still has not reacted despite the advance of the count. In this regard, his team indicated that he would send a statement later.
The opposition failed to establish itself as the center of the debate the economic crisis and the collapse of the local currency, which sharply decreased purchasing power. Even in areas devastated by the earthquake on February 6, voters massively threw their support to Erdogan in the first round, which multiplied his promises on reconstruction.
Erdogan, who already enjoys a majority in Parliament, multiplied the rallies and He based his campaign on the transformations he has brought to the country since he came to power as prime minister in 2003 and then as president since 2014.
Erdogan’s political career
Erdoğan, 69 years old, He began his political career in the 1960s., within Islamist activism, but it was not until 1994 that he became mayor of Istanbul. However, his political rise was temporarily thwarted by the 1998 coup. Today, he became the longest-serving Turkish politician.
In the 2000s founded the government Justice and Development Party (AKP). The solid victory of space in the 2002 parliamentary elections elevated Erdogan to the head of government, a position he would not leave until eleven years later due to the consecutive term limit established in the Turkish constitution.
In 2017, Erdogan, who managed to be elected president by popular vote two years before, decided to go one step further: he reaped another victory in a referendum that for which he could implement a shift towards a presidential model that left the figure of the prime minister out of the game and allowed him to unify powers.
The Turkish head of state, who supported a purely conservative model, the object of numerous criticisms from the opposition and minority sectors of Turkish society, led the country away from the secular path set by Kemal Ataturkfounder of the republic and an indispensable figure in Turkish politics.
However, the events of recent years began to impact the president increasingly authoritarian and repressive that could now suffer the consequences of a response that many consider lax and chaotic to the crises and disasters that have hit the population.
As Erdogan tries to position Turkey as a mediator at the international level, especially in conflicts like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, everything points to a gradual but consistent decline in popularity. This trend was also noted within NATO, where it continues to hinder Sweden’s accession for not complying with its demands.
Democracy is in danger: the accusations against the Erdogan government
For years, many voices have been warning that Turkey’s democracy, historically fragile, is in danger. In that sense, Erdogan’s government markedly increased measures against dissidentswho accuse the president of silencing journalists, activists and opponents, especially in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt.
Said coup attempt led the Government to launch a harsh campaign of arrests which resulted in thousands of people behind bars. In this way, in the last 20 years of power, Erdogan has placed the country at the head of an authoritarian abyss that has brought the judiciary under his wing.
This case materialized in 2022 with the conviction and disqualification of the mayor of Istanbul, the social democrat Ekrem Imamogluin what constituted to a great extent a new attempt by the Government to leave him off the electoral board.
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