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Erdogan Wins Turkey’s Presidential Elections

Erdogan supporters celebrate presidential win in Istanbul.
Erdogan supporters celebrate their party’s win in Istanbul. Credit: Twitter / Erdogan Dijital Medya

Turkey’s incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defeated opposition leader Kemal Kilincaroglu in the country’s runoff election on Sunday.

Erdogan, who has been in power since 2002, will be extending his rule into a third decade, after his win in what was the most closely-fought election in decades.

In the first round of the elections on May 14, Erdogan had the lead but failed to reach the 50 percent of votes needed to win the elections – which led to the runoff vote.

Final official results of the runoff election are yet to be released.

State-run Anadolu Agency reported that Erdogan was leading in the presidential runoff with 53.41% of the vote, while opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu had 46.59%, with 75.42% of the votes counted, according to Ahmet Yener, chairman of the Supreme Election Council (YSK).

Reactions to Erdogan’s election win

“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan told supporters from on top of a bus in Istanbul, as he thanked them for voting.

“I would like to thank each and every member of our nation who once again conveyed to us the responsibility for governing the country for the next five years,” he added.

Large crowds gathered outside the presidential palace in anticipation of victory, chanting Allahu Akbar, or God is Greatest.

Footage posted on social media showed Erdogan’s supporters celebrating in the Hagia Sophia monument, which was converted to mosque in 2020.

Erdogan wins presidential elections despite recent crises

President Erdogan of Turkey
Turkey’s President Erdogan and his wife, Emine, celebrating his win in Istanbul. Credit: Presidency of Turkey

For months, Turkey’s disparate opposition parties had pooled their resources in a bid to bring an end to a president who has extended his power dramatically since a failed coup against him in 2016. Kilidcaroglu had promised to revive Turkish democracy as well as relations with its NATO allies.

Analysts observe that Erdogan prevailed despite several years of economic turmoil, which critics blame on unorthodox economic policies, and despite the citizens’ anger over the state’s initially slow response to Turkey’s devastating earthquakes in February, in which more than 50,000 people died.

In the first round of voting on May 14, which included parliamentary elections, Erdogan’s party emerged top in 10 of the 11 provinces hit by the earthquakes.

As fo the economy, uncertainty about what an Erdogan win will mean for economic policy pushed the lira to record lows last week.

Turkish stocks also fell, with the main banking index slumping by more than 9%.

Credit rating agency Moody’s said Monday that a victory for the opposition would “improve prospects for a return to orthodox economic policies which — if effectively implemented — would be positive for the sovereign’s credit profile over the longer term.”

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