Tuesday, Dec. 05, 2023|
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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won reelection Sunday, extending his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade as the country reels from high inflation and the aftermath of an earthquake that leveled entire cities.
A third term gives Erdogan, a polarizing populist, an even stronger hand domestically and internationally, and the election results will have implications far beyond the capital of Ankara. Turkey stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and it plays a key role in NATO.
With more than 99% of ballot boxes opened, unofficial results from competing news agencies showed Erdogan with 52% of the vote, compared with 48% for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The head of Turkey’s electoral board confirmed the victory, saying that even after accounting for outstanding votes, the result was another term for Erdogan.
In two speeches — one in Istanbul and one in Ankara — Erdogan thanked the nation for entrusting him with the presidency for five more years.
“We hope to be worthy of your trust, as we have been for 21 years,” he told supporters on a campaign bus outside his home in Istanbul in his first comments after the results emerged.
He ridiculed his challenger for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal,” as supporters booed. He said the divisions of the election are now over, but he continued to rail against his opponent as well as the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish party who has been imprisoned for years over alleged links to terrorism.
“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said to hundreds of thousands gathered outside the presidential palace in Ankara, promising to work hard for Turkey’s second century, which he calls the “Turkish century.” The country marks its centennial this year.
Kilicdaroglu campaigned on promises to reverse Erdogan’s democratic backsliding, to restore the economy by reverting to more conventional policies and to improve ties with the West. He said the election was “the most unjust ever,” with all state resources mobilized for Erdogan.
“We will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle until real democracy comes to our country,” he said.
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