Dhis time there were no surprises: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been confirmed in office for a further five years. As the Supreme Electoral Council announced on Sunday evening, 52.1 percent voted for the President. His challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu got 47.9 percent of the votes. Neither high inflation nor the devastating earthquake prevented Erdogan’s loyal constituency from putting their trust in him again after twenty years in power.
Even before the official final result was announced by the electoral authorities, Erdogan declared himself the winner in Istanbul. The opposition did not contradict him. “Our nation has given us the responsibility of governing this country for another five years,” the president said. He spoke from the top of a bus to his followers in Istanbul’s Uskudar district, where he has a home. He repeated a phrase he had said before: “We will be together to the grave.” Erdogan used his speech to criticize his critics in the West. “No one can point a finger at this country.” No one can question the country’s achievements. Erdogan then flew to Ankara.
Erdogan used all the levers that the state apparatus offers him. The media he controlled almost completely ignored his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu. In the end, he showed himself powerless to catch up on Erdogan’s lead from the first round of the presidential election. In a last act of desperation, Kilicdaroglu had turned his campaign 180 degrees in the past few days. He had tried to score points with anti-refugee slogans. Previously, for weeks, he had relied on positive, inclusive messages. The about-face didn’t help him.
There is no way around Erdogan
When Kilicdaroglu stepped in front of his supporters at the CHP party headquarters, he was received with a standing ovation. The election was “more than unfair,” he said. He accused Erdogan of creating “an atmosphere of fear” and of having misused “all of the state’s resources” for his election campaign. “The nation has shown its will to get rid of the authoritarian regime.” Kilicdaroglu, 74, called on his supporters to “continue the democratic struggle”. His party will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle. At first he said nothing about his own political future. His party is expecting his resignation soon.
The opposition now faces a crucial test. The six alliance parties are likely to try to blame each other for the missed opportunity to force Erdogan out of office. The opposition had never come so close to this goal since he came to power in 2003.
Germany and Europe will now have to adjust to continuing to deal with the erratic Erdogan. Nevertheless, there is no way around talking to him. In the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Turkey plays an important role as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea. We will also have to continue to talk about the care of the four million refugees in Turkey.
In the course of the evening, Kilicdaroglu’s Republican People’s Party briefly resisted the defeat. Party spokesman Faik Öztrak accused the Anadolu state agency of “manipulation” because it initially reported that the incumbent had a large lead. Two and a half hours after the polling stations closed, the numbers only allowed one interpretation: Erdogan won.
Erdogan speaks in his palace
The President had already shown himself confident of victory. Unlike usual, he had announced that he would not be holding his traditional balcony speech in the evening at the headquarters of his AK party, but in his presidential palace. Outside the entrance to his thousand-room residence, the outside broadcast vans were packed tightly together. Erdogan’s election victory had been widely expected. It was quiet in the CHP party headquarters in the evening.
No supporters had gathered in front of the headquarters, unlike two weeks ago. The CHP itself had asked her not to come. Instead, they should go to the polling stations to monitor the counting process as observers.
It is the first runoff election for the presidency in the country’s history. The turnout this time was almost 85 percent below the turnout in the first round. Abroad, on the other hand, around 120,000 more Turks voted in the runoff than in the first round on May 14.
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