Turkey's Erdogan wins another term, enters third decade in power

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won his election bid on Sunday, defeating main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and entering his third decade at the helm of Turkish politics, the longest in country's history. 

Erdogan received the 52.07% of the vote while Kilicdaroglu received 47.93, according to Anadolu. More than 99 percent of the ballot boxes were counted. 

Speaking at a campaign rally, Erdogan thanked all voters who entrusted him with the responsibility of governing for another term. “I would like to thank each and every member of our nation who once again entrusted us with the responsibility of governing the country for the next five years,” he said.

In contrast to the May 14 race that saw more than 88% turnout, the runoff was marked by a lower turnout. According to the preliminary results, the turnout remained at around 85%.

The latest polls released on the eve of the elections gave a single-digit lead to Erdogan, whose electoral alliance won the majority of the parliamentary seats in the May 14 parliamentary race.

International observers deployed across Turkey for May 14 elections have also monitored the runoff. 

The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights announced May 15 that it would extend its election monitoring mission to observe the vote. In its preliminary report released after the general elections, the international body criticized the government's misuse of public resources and its grip over the mainstream media during the campaign period. “Voters had a choice between genuine political alternatives and voter participation was high, but the incumbent president and the ruling parties enjoyed an unjustified advantage, including through biased media coverage,” the report said.

Hundreds of thousands of party volunteers from both camps have been mobilized against potential voter fraud. The vote-counting process following the May 14 elections was marred by hundreds of complaints of irregularities, though opposition parties acknowledged that they could not have altered the final results. 

Despite his nearly five-point lead, the first round of the presidential race was the first election Erdogan was unable to win after he deftly bested every other electoral challenge during his more than two decades in power. 

The race is widely seen as Erdogan’s toughest reelection bid yet amid a cost-of-living crisis and breakneck inflation. The Feb. 6 earthquakes that killed more than 50,500 people in the country’s southeast have further exacerbated the country’s deepening woes. The central bank's net foreign reserves fell below zero for the first time since 2002, according to official data. 

The Kilicdaroglu-led opposition bloc’s main pledge to undo Erdogan’s executive presidency, which the government critics call one-man rule, has become moribund after Erdogan's electoral alliance won the majority of the parliamentary seats. The executive presidency system, which was narrowly accepted in a 2017 referendum, weakened the parliament's role as a legislative body. The Kilicdaroglu camp is asking voters for the presidential authority to institute a checks-and-balances mechanism to reverse the country’s democratic backsliding.


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