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Turkish President Erdogan seals election victory to enter third decade in power

Turkish President and Justice and Development (AK) party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during his party’s group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) in Ankara on May 18, 2022.

Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images

Turkey’s election board confirmed on Sunday that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey’s 2023 presidential election, extending his reign into his third decade in power after facing the tightest race of his career.

The head of the Higher Election Board, Ahmet Yener, made the results official, saying that Erdogan had won Turkey’s presidency with 52.14% of the vote.

Yener said Erdogan’s rival Kilikdaroglu received 47.86% of the vote, with 99.43% of ballot boxes opened. He said that with a difference of over 20 lakh votes between the candidates, the remaining uncounted votes would not change the result.

Earlier on Sunday, Turkish public broadcaster TRT announced a presidential election for Erdogan.

Analysts saw a victory for 69-year-old Erdogan as all but leaving the bag after the first vote on May 14, which saw him emerge five percentage points ahead of his rival in a major blow to the opposition.

Kilicdaroglu and his party the CHP promised change, economic reform, saving democratic norms and closer ties with the West – something they expected to lead them to victory, especially in the years of Erdogan’s economic policies. Helped in creating a livelihood crisis. turkey. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

The AK Party leader’s popularity remains alive and well despite public anger over the government’s slow response following a series of devastating earthquakes in February that killed more than 50,000 people.

Many in Turkey – and the Muslim world more broadly – see Erdogan as a savior of faithful Muslims who, despite being a long-time Western ally, has lifted Turkey up on the world stage and pushed back against the West.

In contrast, Kilikdaroglu’s party, the CHP, strives for the fiercely secular model of leadership first established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state. It has historically been known to be more hostile towards Muslims, who make up a large proportion of the Turkish electorate, although under Kılıkdaroğlu the CHP has softened its stance and even accepted former Islamist party members. have joined.

big decisions ahead

Erdogan has no shortage of work ahead of him – and the impact of his decisions will continue far beyond Turkey’s borders. The country of 85 million people boasts NATO’s second-largest military, holds 50 US nuclear warheads, hosts 4 million refugees and plays a key role in Russia-Ukraine mediation. Western allies will also be waiting to see whether Erdogan finally agrees to accept Sweden’s application to join NATO.

Erdogan served as Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as President since 2014. He came to prominence in the 1990s as the mayor of Istanbul, and was celebrated for turning Turkey’s economy into an emerging market powerhouse in the first decade of the new millennium.

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Recent years, however, have been far less pleasant for the religiously conservative leader, whose own economic policies have contributed to inflation hitting more than 80% in 2022 and the Turkish lira, the Turkish currency, falling. liralosing about 77% of its value Dollar in the last five years.

International and domestic voices alike are sounding the alarm that Turkey’s democracy under Erdogan is becoming less democratic by the day.

Continued arrests of journalists, the forced closure of many independent media outlets and a heavy crackdown on past protest movements – as well as a 2017 constitutional referendum that expanded Erdogan’s presidential powers – signal what many say is a move towards autocracy. is slide.

Türkiye’s president dismisses the criticisms. But with a new mandate to lead and previous reforms that have strengthened the power of the president, little stands in the way of a stronger-than-ever Erdogan.

, Reuters contributed to this report.

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