Turkey election: Erdogan claims victory in presidential runoff

He ridiculed his challenger for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal,” as supporters booed


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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Sun 28 May 2023, 10:01 PM

Turkey’s incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory Sunday in his country's runoff election, extending his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade.

With nearly 99 per cent of ballot boxes opened, unofficial results from competing news agencies showed Erdogan with 52 per cent of the vote, compared with 48% for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

In his first comments since the polls closed, Erdogan spoke to supporters on a campaign bus outside his home in Istanbul.

“I thank each member of our nation for entrusting me with the responsibility to govern this country once again for the upcoming five years,” he said.

He ridiculed his challenger for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal,” as supporters booed.

“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

In Istanbul, Erdogan supporters began celebrating even before the final results arrived, waving Turkish or ruling party flags, and honking car horns.

The outcome could have implications far beyond Ankara. Turkey stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and it plays a key role in Nato.

Erdogan’s government vetoed Sweden’s bid to join Nato and purchased Russian missile-defence systems, which prompted the United States to oust Turkey from a US-led fighter-jet project. But it also helped broker a crucial deal that allowed Ukrainian grain shipments and averted a global food crisis.

The competing news agencies get their data from completed ballot box counts that are gathered by personnel on the field, and are strong in different regions, explaining some of the variation in preliminary data. Turkey’s electoral board sends its own data to political parties throughout the vote count but doesn’t declare official results until days later.

Erdogan, who has been at Turkey’s helm for 20 years, was favoured to win a new five-year term in the second-round runoff, after coming just short of outright victory in the first round on May 14.

The divisive populist finished four percentage points ahead of Kilicdaroglu (pronounced KEH-lich-DAHR-OH-loo), the candidate of a six-party alliance. Erdogan’s performance came despite crippling inflation and the effects of a devastating earthquake three months ago. It was the first time he didn’t win an election where he ran as a candidate.

The two candidates offered sharply different visions of the country's future, and its recent past.


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