Even before all the votes had been counted, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had declared himself the winner of the election. He thanks everyone who would have made it possible for him to rule Turkey for the next five years, he told a cheering crowd in Istanbul early in the evening. He will be with his followers “to the grave”. Erdogan spoke of a victory for democracy in which nobody lost.
And as in the election campaign, the 69-year-old launched attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “My brothers, isn’t this CHP for the LGBT?” he asked, referring to his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s party. There is no such thing in his own electoral alliance, said Erdogan.
The election winner accused foreign media of propaganda. German, French and English newspapers tried to “overthrow” him but failed, Erdogan told supporters gathered in front of the presidential palace in Ankara. “You saw the dirty games!”
Turkish lira is under pressure
He once again accused the opposition of being linked to terrorism, against which he now wants to take tougher action. He further promised to bring down the country’s high inflation. However, economists blame his unorthodox economic policy for this.
The Turkish lira, which has already lost significant value, came under pressure on the evening of the election. At times trading at 20.05 lira per dollar, it was trading close to the record low of 20.06 lira per dollar reached on Friday. The lira has lost more than six percent since the beginning of the year.
According to preliminary results, Erdogan received a good 52 percent of the votes, his Social Democratic opponent Kilicdaroglu almost 48 percent. The opposition took office in a historically unique alliance of six parties. She had promised a democratization of the country and a tough course against refugees.
It was the first run-off election in Turkey’s history. In the first round of voting, the Islamic-conservative incumbent was less than five percentage points ahead of Kilicdaroglu and only just missed an absolute majority.
Challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu on election day in Ankara
Kilicdaroglu spoke of the most unfair election in years. In fact, in addition to controlling the media, Erdogan could also draw on state resources. There were also reports of irregularities in the election, which did not change the outcome of the election.
Congratulations from Putin and Zelenskyy
Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first to offer his congratulations. He called Erdogan a “dear friend” and described the election result as confirmation of the Turkish president’s “independent foreign policy”. NATO member Turkey has maintained close ties with Russia, Ukraine and the EU even after the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was backing the “strategic partnership” between Ukraine and Turkey and hoped that security and stability in Europe would be strengthened together.
Congratulations from Washington, Brussels and Berlin
US President Joe Biden did not address the recent tensions in bilateral relations in his congratulations to Erdogan. “I look forward to continuing to work together as a NATO ally on bilateral issues and shared global challenges,” Biden tweeted Sunday night.
Relations between Ankara and Washington have been repeatedly put to the test in recent years. Points of conflict were Ankara’s crackdown on critics, military action in Syria, Erdogan’s close ties to Putin even during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Ankara’s protest against Sweden’s entry into NATO.
NATO and the European Union also congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote that he was looking forward to continuing cooperation and preparing for the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
Blocking Sweden’s accession to NATO is on the summit’s agenda.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel said they wanted to further develop relations between the EU and Turkey. It is of “strategic importance for both the EU and Turkey to work on expanding this relationship for the benefit of our people,” added von der Leyen.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote that he wanted to “advance our common issues with fresh vigour” with Erdogan.
The chairman of the European People’s Party in the EU Parliament, Manfred Weber, has spoken out in favor of ending the EU accession process with Turkey. “The last few years have shown that a close partnership is important, but nobody wants full membership of Turkey in the EU anymore – neither Turkey nor the EU,” the CSU politician told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “We have to put this process aside because it blocks better relationships more than it helps.”
rb/fw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)