Erdogan’s Victory in Turkey’s Presidential Election: Key Takeaways

Trisha D.
8 Min Read

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election grants him 5 extra years to deepen his conservative imprint on Turkish society and to understand his ambition of accelerating the nation’s financial and geopolitical energy.

Turkey’s Supreme Election Council named Mr. Erdogan the victor after a runoff election on Sunday. He received 52.1 % of the vote towards the opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who had 47.9 % with virtually all votes counted, the council stated.

The election was intently adopted by Turkey’s NATO allies, together with the US, who’ve usually seen Mr. Erdogan as a irritating accomplice due to his anti-Western rhetoric and shut ties with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, which have grown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Erdogan has given no indication that he plans to vary his insurance policies overseas, the place he has sought to make use of Turkey’s place on the juncture of Europe, Asia and the Center East to develop its affect, or at house, the place has consolidated energy in his palms and responded to an inflation disaster with unconventional measures that economists stated exacerbated the issue.

Difficult him within the election was a newly united opposition that billed the election as a make-it-or-break-it second for Turkish democracy. The opposition’s candidate, Mr. Kilicdaroglu, ran because the anti-Erdogan, vowing to revive civil freedoms and enhance ties with the West. He billed himself as extra in contact with widespread folks’s struggles.

Listed here are some key takeaways:

Crises broken however didn’t break Erdogan.

This was essentially the most difficult election of Mr. Erdogan’s 20 years as Turkey’s most distinguished politician, as prime minister since 2003 and as president since 2014. Earlier than the preliminary vote, most polls instructed a decent race with Mr. Kilicdaroglu within the lead.

Analysts cited a number of causes Mr. Erdogan would possibly battle. Anger at a painful cost-of-living disaster turned some voters towards him. Highly effective earthquakes in February killed greater than 50,000 folks and broken a whole lot of buildings in southern Turkey. Many quake survivors complained concerning the authorities’s sluggish preliminary response whereas the destruction raised questions on whether or not Mr. Erdogan’s haste to develop the nation had inspired unsafe building.

Turkey’s traditionally fractious opposition put aside its variations to return collectively behind Mr. Kilicdaroglu and argued that change was wanted to cease the nation’s slide towards one-man rule.

Mr. Erdogan got here to energy 20 years in the past amid anger on the authorities’s disastrous response to an earthquake close to Istanbul in 1999 that killed greater than 17,000 folks. So many anticipated this yr’s quake to harm his standing as nicely.

However there few indications that it did.

Mr. Erdogan got here out forward in eight of the 11 provinces affected by February’s earthquake. His governing Justice and Growth Social gathering and its political allies fared even higher, profitable a majority of votes within the simultaneous parliamentary elections in all however one of many quake-stricken provinces.

Participation within the earthquake zone was additionally excessive, regardless of worries that many citizens displaced by the destruction would battle to return house to forged their ballots as is required. Though participation within the 11 quake-affected provinces was decrease than the 88.9 % of eligible voters who forged ballots nationally, in none of these provinces did turnout dip under 80 %.

Interviews with quake survivors indicated many causes that the catastrophe had not modified their political outlook. Some described the quake as an act of God that any authorities would have struggled to answer. Others whose properties had been destroyed stated that they had extra religion in Mr. Erdogan to rebuild the affected areas than that they had in his challenger.

Terrorism warnings resonated with voters.

Mr. Erdogan undermined the opposition by portraying its leaders as weak and incompetent, however one line of assault proved to be particularly potent: accusations that they’d be tender on terrorism.

The president repeatedly made this argument to voters, based mostly on the opposition’s having obtained the assist of Turkey’s predominant pro-Kurdish get together. The federal government usually accuses that get together of collaboration with militants from Turkey’s Kurdish minority who’ve been at battle with the Turkish state for many years, in search of autonomy.

Mr. Erdogan even went as far as to air movies at his rallies that had been doctored to point out militant leaders singing alongside to Mr. Kilicdaroglu’s marketing campaign track. Many citizens believed him, saying in interviews that they didn’t belief the opposition to maintain the nation secure.

The vote was free however not honest.

Worldwide observers reported no large-scale issues with the method of accumulating and counting votes through the first spherical, deeming the method free.

However they famous the great benefits Mr. Erdogan had earlier than voting started, together with his means to unleash billions of {dollars} in state spending to attempt to offset the detrimental results of inflation and different financial strains and the ample, optimistic media protection he obtained from the state-funded broadcaster.

Late on Sunday, Mr. Mr. Kilicdaroglu didn’t contest the vote rely, however instructed his supporters that the general election had been “probably the most unfair election processes in recent times.”

Many within the political opposition worry that the closeness of the race will lead Mr. Erdogan to crack down on his political opponents extra aggressively to stop such a stiff problem sooner or later.

Mr. Erdogan should now confront financial issues.

Economists warn that Mr. Erdogan resorted to costly short-term ways to insulate voters from inflation and forestall the worth of the nationwide forex from sinking additional. However he can’t stick with it endlessly.

Turkey’s overseas forex reserves have declined steeply, that means the nation might lose its means to pay again overseas collectors. And since a lot of that cash has been spent to maintain the forex steady, its worth might dive as soon as that spending stops.

Mr. Erdogan gave no indication throughout his marketing campaign that he deliberate to change his financial insurance policies, regardless of stubbornly excessive, double-digit inflation that economists say has been exacerbated by his insistence on reducing rates of interest as an alternative of elevating them to fight inflation, as orthodox economics recommends.

So no matter what strikes Mr. Erdogan wish to prioritize firstly of his new time period, the dangers of a forex disaster or recession are more likely to demand his consideration.

Gulsin Harman contributed reporting from Ankara, Turkey.

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