Incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got another five years in office, after narrowly winning a runoff vote on Sunday.
Erdogan defeated his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu after receiving 52.14% of the votes, the head of the Election Board (YSK) Ahmet Yener said on Sunday.
The Turkish president spoke to supporters shortly after declaring victory, saying voters had given him the responsibility to govern for the next five years.
“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Kilicdaroglu condemned the “most unfair election in years,” but vowed to continue “at the forefront of this struggle” against the Erdogan regime.
“My real sadness is about the difficulties that await the country,” he said, implicitly conceding defeat.
Erdogan calls for ‘unity and solidarity’
In a victory speech on Sunday night, Erdogan called for “unity and solidarity,” vowing to put aside all disputes and unite the country behind “national values and dreams.”
Erdogan said his narrow victory in the race was one for “Turkey’s democracy” and all of the country’s 85 million citizens.
“We have no anger, no anger or frustration with anyone,” French AFP news agency quoted him as saying. “Today, no one lost. The whole country’s 85 million won.”
Then, Erdogan moved to declaring “terrorist organizations” as the losers of the vote.
He acknowledged that the country’s high inflation is the most pressing issue facing the country, but said it will not be difficult to solve, promising to reduce inflation and vowing to build a strong economy based on stability and trust. .
He also promised to return an additional 1 million Syrians who sought refuge in neighboring Turkey during their country’s civil war.
What does this mean for Turkey?
Erdogan’s latest victory makes him Turkey’s longest-serving president since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic a century ago. This will encourage him to push unconventional economic policies, both domestic and foreign.
The leader of Turkey’s conservative AKP (Justice and Development Party) espouses Islamic values and a populist outlook.
During his two-decade reign, he emboldened Turkey’s conservative citizens who had long felt alienated under a succession of secular rulers. Erdogan, for example, promised to enshrine the right to wear the Islamic headscarf in the constitution and declared Hagia Sophia in Istanbul a mosque after the court ruling.
He has also challenged Western partners and NATO allies on several occasions, most recently by delaying Norway’s accession to the alliance and blocking Sweden altogether.
NATO allies including the US, Germany, the UK and France were quick to congratulate Erdogan on his latest victory, joining Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom the Turkish leader continues to maintain relations even after the war in Ukraine.
Perhaps the biggest domestic challenge to Erdogan’s popularity is his unorthodox economic policies, which analysts blame for the country’s current inflation and cost-of-living crises. The country’s economic boom is also expected to top his list of challenges.
In 2021, Erdogan insisted on slashing interest rates at all costs, pushing the local currency into freefall and hiking the annual inflation rate up to 85% last year.
Turkey’s leader has vowed to stay the course, despite warnings from analysts.
Slow relief efforts after devastating earthquakes in the Turkish-Syrian border region earlier this year have also drawn heavy criticism of Erdogan’s government.
rmt/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)