Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured on Sunday another term in office, extending his 20-year hold on power in Turkey for a further 5 years and defeating main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Erdogan, 69, won Turkey's most contested election in a race that saw the country deeply split around issues of the economy, national security, refugees and foreign relations.
Erdoğan received 52.18% of the vote while Kılıçdaroğlu received 47.82%. The number of votes received by Erdoğan was 27,834,692, and by Kılıçdaroğlu was 25,504,552, giving a total of 53,339,244 valid votes. The participation rate was 84.15%, a little lower than the 88% registered in the first round on May 14th.
Unlike his previous election victory speeches which he delivered from his party headquarters in Ankara, Erdoğan delivered his victory speech at his presidential palace early Monday in front of hundreds of thousands of people gathered. Erdoğan pledged to prioritize the economy, but ruled out an IMF program. He also vowed to continue to fight against Kurdish groups in northern Syria.
Kılıçdaroğlu conceded defeat after results showed Erdoğan with an insurmountable 4% lead. Speaking in a televised press address at his party headquarters in Ankara, Kılıçdaroğlu said the country witnessed an unfair process, referring to Erdoğan’s control over most of the media outlets.
The incumbent president’s victory was widely expected after Erdoğan secured a nearly five-point lead against Kılıçdaroğlu in the first round on May 14th. Erdoğan’s electoral People’s Alliance also won control of the parliament by winning the majority of the seats.
Erdoğan, 69, has been in power as prime minister since 2003, and became president in 2014 with expanded executive powers.
His win against Kılıçdaroğlu solidifies his executive presidency and his status as the longest-serving leader in the country’s history. But the incumbent president will face great challenges in power amid high inflation and an acute cost-of-living crisis.
The Turkish Central Bank’s net foreign reserves fell below zero for the first time since 2002, official data released earlier this week showed. The opposition charges that under Erdoğan’s influence, the Central Bank used up its remaining F/X reserves in a bid to prop-up the Turkish lira.