Turkish presidential election: Erdogan win leaves country divided

Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures to supporters at the presidential palace, in Ankara.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures to supporters at the presidential palace, in Ankara. Copyright Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Joshua Askew
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Turkey's president defeated secular challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the second round of voting on Sunday.


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will rule until 2028 after winning last night's Turkish presidential election. 

He defeated rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the second round of voting, after coming just short of an outright victory first time around on 14 May. 

Erdogan secured more than 52% of the vote, though the results have split the nation. 

In two bullish victory speeches, the 69-year-old thanked voters for entrusting him with power again and called for unity. 

However, he soon targeted political foes, such as challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu, jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas and the LGBT community. 

Secular rival Kilicdaroglu said the election was “the most unjust ever,” claiming Erdogan had mobilised all state resources and the media he controls against him. 

“We will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle until real democracy comes to our country,” he said in Ankara.


Elections 'turning point in history', says Erdogan

Monday marks the 570th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire capturing Istanbul, then Constantinople. 

Referring to this event, Erdogan says: "That was a turning point in history, closed a century and opened a new one."

"I hope these elections will be such a turning point in history.”

His victory speech finishes with a poem. 


Million more Syrian refugees will return - Erdogan

Erdogan's address to supporters has moved onto Syrian refugees, a hot topic in the run-up to the election. 

"We have so far ensured the voluntary return of nearly 600 thousand migrants to the safe zones in Syrian territory," he said.

"With a new project, we will ensure the return of one million more people in a few years. we need to fulfil the demand of our citizens on this issue."

Turkey, which borders Syria in the southeast, hosts 3.4 million Syrians who have fled the war. 

Erdogan's rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu promised to deport all the refugees back to Syria, if he was elected. 


Erdogan: Tackling inflation a 'priority'

"Now that the elections are over, we will allocate all our time and energy to work," said the Turkish president during a speech to supporters. 

"Overcoming the problems arising from inflation is one of our priorities," he continued. "As the interest rate has come down, inflation will also come down."

Inflation surged to above 85% last year, hitting Erdogan's popularity hard. 


'Turkey won', says Erdogan

The newly-elected Turkish president has said his win is a victory for the country, while urging supporters "to unite and get together". 

Speaking at his palace in Ankara, he told the crowd: “You gave this duty to us again, we will build the century of Turkey together." 

“In one of the most important elections in Turkish history, our nation chose the century of Turkey."

Turkey will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern Turkish Republic this year.

"It is not just us who won, Turkey won," he added.


What Erdogan's re-election means for Turkey and the West?

The consequences of his victory over secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu] will reverberate across Turkey and the world.

Read more here.


Strong voter turnout 

More than 85% of the Turkish electorate turned out to vote on Sunday, higher than the average in many European countries.

Around 52,000,000 votes were cast, putting turnout at 85.71%.

In the 2022 French Presidential Election 74% of the electorate cast votes. Meanwhile, in the 2019 UK General Election 67% of those eligible to vote did so.


Zelenskyy wants to deepen coperation with Erdogan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has congratulated his Turkish counterpart for winning, expressing a desire to work together in the areas of "security and stability".

"I congratulate President @RTErdogan for his victory in the presidential elections," he wrote on Twitter Sunday evening.

"We hope to develop our cooperation for the security and stability of Europe and further strengthen our strategic partnership for the benefit of our countries."


Erdogan declared champion by election council 

"Based on the provisional results, it has been found that Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been re-elected President of the Republic," said the chairman of the Turkish High Electoral Committee (YSK), Ahmet Yener.

He was quoted as saying this by the government-controlled Anadolu Agency news agency. 

The result is still not yet official, with 99.85% of the votes counted, according to Anadolu. 


First reactions from EU

The President of the European Council has congratulated Erdogan on his victory. 

"I look forward to working with you again to deepen EU-Turkey relations in the years to come," Charles Michel wrote on Twitter.

Turkey's long-running EU accession negotiations stalled in 2016. The pair have quarrelled in the past over Ankara's human rights violations, issues with the rule of law and the migration crisis. 


Authoritarian leaders congratulate Erdogan

Some authoritarian leaders from around the world have praised the Turkish president's victory. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his election success, with the two countries having got closer in recent years.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi also praised his Turkish counterpart, calling the result a sign of the Turkish people's continued trust in him. 

Turnout in the 2021 Iranian presidential election was 48.5%, the lowest turnout in Iranian electoral history, with few Iranians satisfied with the candidates on offer. It also had the highest share of spoiled or invalid ballots at around 13%.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, centre, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo in 2022.

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