Erdogan defies international critics to win a third term
President Erdogan has successfully fought off his rival, to claim victory in the run-off elections in Turkey.
He defeated opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, by winning 52.14% of the votes to 47.86% to Kilicdaroglu and immediately declared his commitment to rebuilding the economy and crucially offering a promise to repatriate over 1 million Syrian refugees from mainland Turkey to Turkish controlled zones in Syria.
World leaders congratulate Erdogan on his victory
Congratulations have flowed in from world leaders. It was of note that among the early calls of congratulations were those from both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Erdogan’s address to thousands of his supporters outside the presidential palace in Ankara, was also aimed at the voters who had shifted their support to the leader of the opposition and he focused on the concerns and disaffections which had dogged his campaign.
He urged all sides to:
‘..put aside all the debates and conflicts regarding the election period and unite around our national goals and dreams…We are not the only winners, the winner is Turkey. The winner is all parts of our society, our democracy is the winner’
The third term President then reiterated his intention to get raging inflation under control, after Turkey achieved record high levels during the last quarter. Economists have predicted that Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies were responsible for pushing inflation to levels as high as 85% in October last year and that he may now move towards using more traditional mechanisms.
He said he intended to heal the wounds from the devastating earthquake which rocked Turkey on February 6 and which claimed more than 50,000 lives in Turkey and neighbouring Syria. In a tone aimed at reconciliation he added:
‘We hope to be worthy of your trust, as we have been for 21 years’
Kilicdaroglu was always the underdog but hoped to cash in on disaffected voters
Although Kilicdaroglu entered Turkey’s first ever run-off as the underdog, having denied Erdogan an outright win in the first round by the tiniest of margins, he harboured hopes of winning over disaffected supporters who had been hit hard by the cost of living crisis and the perceived slow response of the government to the recent earthquake. Kemal Kilicdaroglu did however accept the result of the elections, although he proclaimed them to be free, but not fair. He claimed that the incumbent had overwhelming control of the media, which ensured that the incumbent’s message was always prominent. He vowed to continue to fight until he said, there is “real democracy” in Turkey.
Erdogan showed remarkable skills in bolstering the support from his conservative base
Many pundits see the Erdogan victory as defying all expectations and his critics, especially on the international stage, have had to recognise his remarkable ability to successfully bolster support from his base of conservative voters by heavily promoting family values and underlining his purpose in continuing to expand Turkey’s role on the world stage.
Erdogan’s supporters celebrated in the streets in cities across Turkey as well as in major cities worldwide. They waved Turkish national flags and the flag of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), as they held up traffic, honking car horns and chanting Erdogan’s name. The largest crowds were seen In Istanbul’s Taksim Square, with chants of ‘Erdogan’ and ‘Allah Akbar’.