Turkey’s longtime president to face off against main rival in run-off as uncertainty looms – wake-up call

Susan Fraser and Zeynep Birginsoy (affiliated news agency)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkish election officials said on Monday that conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be a major player in a runoff vote to decide who will lead the superinflation-stricken country within two weeks. He announced that he will face his rival. Expansion of the Middle East and NATO.

The second round of the May 28 presidential election, which follows Sunday’s polls, will show whether Turkey will remain under the firm rule of an increasingly authoritarian president for 30 years, or Kemal Kirikdaroglu claims it can happen. It will be able to decide whether it can embark on the democratic route. .

Many voters said the vote showed how deeply polarized Turkey is.

“I’m not happy at all,” said voter Susan Debrezza. “I’m worried about Türkiye’s future.”

Erdogan has faced headwinds in his election campaign due to the cost of living crisis and criticism of the government’s handling of the devastating earthquake in February. But Erdogan is now well positioned to win the second round as his alliance maintains control in parliament.

First-time voter Sena Dayan said she voted for President Erdogan and his allies in Istanbul. She would have hoped for a complete victory for President Erdogan, but she argued that the runoff would be an important lesson.

“President Erdogan is too confident in himself, but the public has broken that confidence a bit by saying ‘yes, sometimes we may not support you’, which the government looks back on some failures. It’s good for us and I believe it’s good for our future,” she said.

As in previous years, the nationalist led a highly divisive campaign.

It portrayed Mr. Kilicdaroglu, who was backed by the country’s pro-Kurdish political parties, as colluding with “terrorists” and supporting what he called “deviant” LGBTQ rights. As a pious leader in a Muslim-majority country founded on secular principles, Erdogan has the support of conservative voters and anti-LGBTQ narratives to attract more Islamists. has fascinated

To convince inflation-hit voters, he increased wages and pensions, subsidized electricity and gas bills, and showcased Turkey’s homegrown defense industry and infrastructure projects.

Mr. Kilicdaroglu heads the main pro-secular opposition party founded by the founders of modern Turkey. He campaigned on promises to reverse the crackdown on free speech and other forms of democratic setbacks and repair an economy hit by high inflation and a devaluation.

The latest official figures put inflation at around 44%, down from a high of around 86%, but independent experts estimate inflation to be much higher.

As the results unfolded, these factors didn’t seem to sway voters as much as most expected. The conservative heartland of Turkey overwhelmingly voted for the ruling party, with Mr. Kilicdaroglu’s main opposition winning victories in most of the western and southern coastal provinces.

Western countries and foreign investors have been drawn to this trend because of President Erdogan’s unconventional economic leadership and his often fickle but successful efforts to put him at the center of many major diplomatic negotiations across Europe and Asia. I was particularly interested in the results.

Supreme Electoral Commission chairman Ahmet Jena said provisional results showed Erdogan winning 49.5% of the vote on Sunday, followed by 44.9% for Kirikda Rogul and 5.2% for third candidate Sinan Ogan. obtained.

Jenner said the remaining uncounted votes, even if they were all for Erdogan, would not have been enough to give Erdogan a complete victory. In the last presidential election in 2018, Erdogan won the first round with more than 52% of the vote.

Uncertainty looms over the 3.4 million Syrian refugees under temporary Turkish protection, fleeing the war in neighboring Syria. Both Kirikdaroglu and Ogan say Syrians are a burden as Turkey faces an economic downturn and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan’s government work to improve ties after years of rivalry and campaigned for the repatriation of Syrians. Erdoğan, who welcomed Syrians to Turkey, has brought Syrians and other migrants to the negotiating table with Europe, which is struggling with the influx of people.

Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey as prime minister or president since 2003, painted Sunday’s vote as a victory for both himself and the country.

In a tweet on Monday, he said the vote for himself and the alliance was a testament to the public’s trust, but added that he respected the result of preventing an outright victory by half a point.

“God hope that we can achieve a historic victory by increasing the number of votes from May 14th and winning the election on May 28th,” he said, adding that he would encourage all people regardless of their political preferences. He added that he asked for a vote.

Kirikudaroglu sounded defiant, tweeting around the time the run-off was announced: “Don’t despair…we will stand up and win this election together.”

Kirikdaroglu, 74, and his party, which have lost all previous presidential and parliamentary elections since he became leader in 2010, have gained more votes this time.

Right-wing candidate Ogan has not said who he would support if the election went to the second round.

Election results showed the coalition led by President Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party is likely to retain a majority in the 600-seat parliament, but narrowly passed a referendum giving the president additional legislative powers. Congress has since lost much of its power. in 2017.

Erdogan’s AKP and its allies secured 322 seats in parliament, while the opposition won 213 seats and the remaining 65 seats were won by pro-Kurdish and left-wing coalitions, according to preliminary results.

Erdogan’s party dominated the quake-hit areas, winning 10 of the 11 provinces that traditionally supported the president, according to results reported by the state Anadolu Agency. This was despite criticism that the government was slow to respond to the 7.8-magnitude quake that killed more than 50,000 people.

Dayan, an Erdogan supporter who is training to be a teacher, believes the president has exceeded expectations as Turkey copes with inflation and a devastating earthquake.

“If the opposition had not been so weak, I don’t think Erdogan would have won as many votes,” she said, adding that voters, especially in the earthquake-hit areas, were criticizing Erdogan despite the government’s poor response. He claimed that he did not trust Mr. Kirikudaroguru enough to leave him behind.

Nearly 89% of Turkish voters cast their ballots, while more than half of overseas voters made their way to the ballot box. Turkey’s voter turnout has traditionally been high despite years of government suppression of freedom of expression and assembly, especially since the 2016 coup attempt.

Erdoğan blamed followers of former ally cleric Fethullah Gulen for the failed coup and launched a massive crackdown on officials suspected of having ties to Gulen, activists, journalists and pro-Kurdish leaders politicians were also imprisoned.

Special Coordinator and leader of the OSCE Observatory that oversees the election, Michael Georg Rink, said the election was competitive but limited.

“The criminalization of some political forces, including the detention of several opposition politicians, has prevented full political pluralism and prevented individuals from standing for election,” he explained.

The Observatory also said the use of public resources, media bias in favor of Erdogan, the criminalization of dissemination of false information and online censorship gave Erdogan an “unfair advantage”. said the elections showed the resilience of Turkish democracy.


Birginsoy reported from Istanbul. Associated Press reporter Robert Badendiek contributed from Istanbul, Mehmet Guzel from Ankara, Turkey, and Chinar Kiper from Bodrum, Turkey. Turkey’s longtime president to face off against main rival in run-off as uncertainty looms – wake-up call

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