ISTANBUL: The current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared victory in the run-off elections in his country, and extended his rule to a third decade. In his first comment since the polls closed, Erdogan He spoke to supporters on the campaign bus outside his home in Istanbul. “I thank every member of our nation for being entrusted with the responsibility of governing this country again for the next five years,” he said.
He mocked his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, for his loss, saying, “Bye, bye, Kemal,” while his supporters booed. “The only winner today is Türkiye,” Erdogan said.
Preliminary unofficial results from Turkish news agencies showed Erdogan leading with 98% of ballot boxes counted in the presidential runoff that will decide whether the country’s longtime leader extends his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade. The state-run Anadolu news agency showed Erdogan at 52.1%, and his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu at 47.9%. Meanwhile, the ANKA news agency, which is close to the opposition, showed the results with 51.9% for Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu with 48.1%. Earlier, the head of the Supreme Election Council said in a press conference earlier that Erdogan is ahead of Kilicdaroglu with 54.47% support, with 54.6% of the ballot boxes registered.
In Istanbul, Erdogan’s supporters began celebrating even before the final results arrived, waving flags of Turkey or the ruling party, and blaring car horns. There was no immediate response to Erdogan’s victory speech from his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Erdogan, who has been at the helm of Turkey for 20 years, was favored to win a new five-year term in the second round of the second round, after he was on the verge of an outright victory in the first round on May 14. A point ahead of Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of the six-party alliance. Erdogan’s performance came despite crippling inflation and devastating effects Earthquake three months ago. This was the first time he did not win the election as he ran as a candidate.
If Erdoğan wins officially, he could remain in power until 2028. A devout Muslim, he heads the conservative and religious Justice and Development Party, or Justice and Development Party. Erdogan shifted the presidency from a largely ceremonial role to a powerful one through a narrowly won 2017 referendum that abolished Turkey’s parliamentary system of government. He was the first directly elected president in 2014, and won the 2018 election that ushered in the executive presidency.
The result may have implications far beyond Ankara. Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Türkiye plays a major role in NATO. Erdogan’s government vetoed Sweden’s bid to join NATO and bought Russian missile defense systems, prompting the US to kick Turkey out of a US-led fighter jet project. But it also helped broker a crucial deal that allowed the shipment of Ukrainian grain and averted a global food crisis.
The two candidates offered sharply different visions of the country’s future and recent past. Erdogan, the head of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, lured voters with nationalist and conservative rhetoric during a divisive campaign that deflected attention from deep economic woes. The defeat of Kilicdaroglu, who promised to put the country on a more democratic and cooperative path, will likely be greeted in Moscow but mourned in Western capitals and most of West Asia after Turkey took a more confrontational and independent stance in foreign affairs.
Critics blame Erdogan’s unconventional economic policies for high inflation, which has fueled the cost of living crisis. Many also criticized his government for the slow response to the earthquake, which killed more than 50,000 people.
But Erdogan retained the support of conservative voters who remain loyal to him in order to raise the image of Islam in Turkey, which was founded on secular principles, and to increase the country’s influence in world politics. AP


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