ErdoÄŸan's victory in Turkish presidential election


ErdoÄŸan claims victory in Turkey's recent election

Article Image

Image by mksivridemir

By Jess Sherburn

TURKEY’S PRESIDENT RECEP Tayyip Erdoğan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over twenty years, will now serve another five-year term. According to Turkey’s supreme

election authority, with 99.4 percent of total votes counted, Erdoğan won 52.1 percent, putting him ahead of Kılıçdaroğlu on 47.9 percent after the Sunday 28 May run-off elections.

Ahmet Yener, Head of the Elec-tion Board, noted that the remaining 0.6 percent of votes not then counted would not have been enough to change the results, with a gap of almost two million votes separating Erdoğan from Kılıçdaroğlu.

The run-off success shows the long-lasting power of Erdoğan’s campaign, whose position as president has been regarded as at its most unstable since he first became the leader

of Turkey in 2003. This is due to the country suffering from an increasing economical strain and the most unified opposition against Erdoğan seen in years.

Despite declaring in his victory speech, “we’ve opened the door to the century of Turkey together,” atop a bus in Istanbul to his supporters be-low, Erdoğan presides over a country choked by a cost of living crisis. With the Lira hitting a record low against the dollar after the election, investors and economists worry over Turkey’s foreign exchange reserves.

The opposition had warned that a further term for Erdoğan would only see the country’s continued decimation of human rights and democracy. Erdoğan returned this by accusing the oppositions of aligning with terrorists. As a referendum on Turkey’s future, this “century” Erdoğan describes in his victory speech harkens back to the founding of the republic by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk exactly 100 years before. Erdoğn can be seen as a politician that has had control over Turkey like no other since Atatürk for sheer time and momentum.

The damning earthquakes of 6 February, where 50,000 people were killed and millions more were left without homes, were expected to hurt Erdoğan’s campaign with complaints over slow government aid. In spite of this, voting turnout remained extremely high in these provinces, with a turnout between 85-89 percent in Erdoğan’s favour.

Reasons for the growing opposition have been connected to February’s twin earthquakes. Academic research reveals that the Turkish economy under Erdoğan rose highly on the backs of construction demand, by allowing companies to embark on massive building sprees without following cor-rect building regulations . This, along with other human rights issues, including diverging attitudes towards refugees, forced the country’s six-party opposition coalition to announce its joint candidate against Erdoğan’s campaign.

At the nucleus of his Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kılıçdaroğlu  has admitted that “in this election, the will of the people to change an authoritarian government has clearly emerged”. This can be shown in how despite Erdoğan’s entry into the second round in the lead, after the first round results of 49.5 percent to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 44.5 percent, the opposition succeeded in forcing Erdoğan’s hand into participating in a runoff election. Kılıçdaroğlu and the united opposition against Erdoğan have promised to return Turkey to a true parliamentary democracy in the following years, including the reversal of many of Erdoğan’s policies in his two decades of power, notably the jailing of opposition candidates. This has led to Erdoğan having been accused of taking an increased authoritarian rule of Turkey in previous years, which has amplified the pressure of the cost of living crisis.

In his continued victory speech, Erdoğan vowed that Selahattin Demirtas, a Kurdish politician jailed in 2016 for his political speeches as part of the country’s third-biggest party, would remain in jail. A 2020 human rights campaign run by the opposition was ignored. These signifi-cant efforts to stop Erdoğan have only resulted in failure. The implications of this show that Turkey is a nation truly invested in Erdoğan.

Erdoğan’s re-election has profound consequences for the rest of the world, as Turkey borders Europe, Asia and the Middle East which gives the nation considerable influence. Whilst also being a member of NATO, Erdoğan’s continued relationship with Putin’s Russia has led Turkey to be a key negotiator, denoting the signifi- ance of this electoral contest.

Turkey’s future as a nation on the global stage is likely to be heavily impacted by geopolitical conditions including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the unwavering popularity of Erdoğan in the face of strong opposition, and the democratic backsliding towards authoritarianism in countries still engaged with Putin’s Russia. It is clear that through these elections, Erdoğan’s position has only been strengthened further.