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Erdogan claims victory in Turkey’s presidential election

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Erdogan claims victory in Turkey’s presidential election

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters following early exit poll results for the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul, Turkey May 28, 2023. — Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters following early exit poll results for the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul, Turkey May 28, 2023. — Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in Turkey’s presidential election on Sunday, a win that would steer his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade.

Addressing supporters, Erdogan said voters had given him the responsibility to rule for the next five years.

“The only winner is Turkey,” he said, addressing cheering supporters from atop a bus in Istanbul.

Final official results have yet to be released.

There was no immediate response to Erdogan’s victory speech from his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

The election had been seen as one of the most consequential yet for Turkey, with the opposition believing it had a strong chance of unseating Erdogan after his popularity was hit by a cost-of-living crisis.

Instead, victory will reinforce his image of invincibility, after having already redrawn domestic, economic, security and foreign policy in the NATO member country of 85 million people and positioned Turkey as a regional power.

Supporters gathered at his Istanbul residence in anticipation of victory as data reported by both state-run Anadolu agency and the opposition ANKA news agency gave him the edge with nearly 99% of ballot boxes counted.

“All 85 million of our citizens are the winners of both the May 14 and May 28 elections,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu.

“We said ‘We will win in a way that no one will lose.’ So the only winner today is Turkey,” he stressed.

Erdogan is currently leading in the presidential runoff with 53.41% of the vote, while opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has 46.59%, with 75.42% of the votes counted, according to Ahmet Yener, chairman of the Supreme Election Council (YSK).

On May 14, no candidate won the required 50% in the first round, triggering the presidential runoff, although Erdogan took the lead with 49.52%.​​​​​​ Erdogan’s electoral alliance also won a majority in parliament on May 14.

“We have completed the second-round presidential election with the favor of our nation,” Erdogan said, expressing his gratitude to the people of Turkey.

“I would like to thank each and every member of our nation who once again conveyed to us the responsibility for governing the country for the next five years,” he added.

The defeat of Kilicdaroglu, who promised to set the country on a more democratic and collaborative path, would likely be cheered in Moscow but mourned in Western capitals and much of the Middle East after Turkey took a more confrontational and independent stance in foreign affairs.

— With additional input from Anadolu Agency

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