According to Anadolu agency data, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the second round of Turkey’s presidential elections this Sunday, after a close contest against opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
With 98.64% of the votes counted, the current president, candidate of the Popular Alliance, obtains 52.09% of the votes compared to 47.91% for Kilicdaroglu, who is running for the Nation Alliance, collects the agency. The results definitive will be announced by the supreme electoral body in a subsequent message.
“I want to thank each and every member of our nation, who once again they have entrusted us the responsibility of governing the country for the next 5 years,” Erdogan declared at a rally before his supporters in Istanbul. “The winner of the elections on May 14 and May 28 are the 85 million citizens,” added the president, leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Even before the final results were announced, several world leaders congratulated Erdogan on the victory, such as the Emir of Taste, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; the prime minister of HungaryViktor Orban, and the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyeev.
The balloting of this May 28 was held after neither of the two candidates managed to exceed 50% of the votes in the first round.
To guarantee the security of the electoral process, the Ministry of the Interior deployed more than 596,000 security agents, including more than 324,000 police officers, throughout the national territory. Likewise, the center for emergency and security situations was created to monitor the process in all 81 provinces, while teams against cybercrimes track possible spread of disinformation, provocative posts and other types of malicious content, details the Hurriyet daily.
After casting his vote in a school in Istanbul, the current president stressed in statements to the press that it is about the first time that Turkiye celebrated a second round to elect the future head of state. “There is no country in the history of the world where such a vote has been held with up to 90% participation. Turkey waged his democratic fight with a participation of up to 90%,” he said.
With this victory, Erdogan, in power since 2003, has achieved renew his five-year term at a time when the country is going through economic problems, exacerbated by the devastating earthquake on February 6, and also when Turkey’s role is increasing in international politics, with Ankara emerging as a mediator in the Ukrainian crisis and at the same time time experiencing friction with NATO.
Why was Erdogan able to run again?
Turkey’s presidential term is limited to two five-year terms, but Erdogan ran this time for the third time. The step was possible thanks to the approval in 2017, by a narrow margin, of the amendments to the Constitution that established the transition of Turkey from a parliamentary republic to a presidential one.
After the changes came to fruition, the head of state was granted broad powers, while the post of head of government, held by Erdogan from 2003 to 2014, was abolished.
What did Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu promise?
In their statements before and after the first round, both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu focused on the need to improve the current economic situation and ensure recovery after the devastating earthquake in February.
Among other causes, this is due to the high inflation rates registered in the country and the devaluation of its currency, the Turkish lira, which seriously affected the nation, while the current president clung to a non-traditional monetary course, advocating to lower the interest rate to combat the rise in prices. According to official data, in March this year the consumer price index, a key figure for measuring inflation, had increased by 50.51% year-on-year.
Despite this, Erdogan, in power since 2003, is against raising the interest rate, arguing that this could cause the economic slowdown. In parallel, he intends build 650,000 new homes for “completely heal wounds” in the 11 provinces affected by the earthquake. In addition, it promises cheap gas for a year for domestic consumption of up to 25 cubic meters per month, just as a few days before the first round it had announced the 45% salary increase for 700,000 civil servants.
At the international level, the current president maintains that he will continue the course to increase Ankara’s influence in global affairs and maintain an independent position that is reflected in the refusal to sanction Russia for the operation in Ukraine, the mediating role between kyiv and Moscow, the frequent friction with NATO or the European Union.
Along these lines, Erdogan affirms that under his leadership the country will remain as “an island of peace and security” and will build “the axis of Turkey” that will bring “stability, multilateralism, more cooperation” for both Ankara and humanity.
In his assertions against Kilicdaroglu, he calls him too pro-western and affirms that he is supported by forces that his Government considers terrorists, such as the Kurds, among others. In parallel, the president criticizes his opponent for trying to worsen relations with Russia after Kilicdaroglu accused Moscow of interfering in the electoral process, something that was emphatically rejected by the Kremlin. Erdogan presents as an achievement of his policy the “special” relationships with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir putin.
While Kilicdaroglu, who is running as a Democrat and accuses Erdogan of running the country with autocratic methodsdefends the need to return to “a strong parliamentary system”, attract foreign investment billionaires to boost the economy.
Regarding foreign policy, the opposition candidate was betting on closer proximity to the EU and the US, as well as for resolving the Kurdish problem and guaranteeing the return of Syrian refugees to their country of origin. After knowing the results of the first round, Kilicdaroglu promised that he would expel to all refugees in case of victory.
On the other hand, Kilicdaroglu maintains an ambiguous position on the continuity of relations with Russia. On one hand, she promised to stick with him. dialogue Based on equality, he denied reports that he would make a 180-degree turn in relations with Moscow. On the other hand, he was willing to continue with the role of intermediary between Russia and Ukraine.
Heading for the ‘throne’ of the country
In 1998 Erdogan was accused of incite hatred ethnic group after reading an Islamist poem at a rally in December 1997 in Siirt province. Although the poetic work it was not prohibited, and was even part of the books recommended by the Ministry of Education for teachers, the politician was dismissed as mayor of Istanbul and sentenced to ten months in prison. However, got out on probation after spending four months behind bars.
In 2001, Erdogan founded the Justice and Development Party of Turkiye (AKP, for its acronym in Turkish) that united Islamic conservatives, representatives of the center-right and the business world, competing from then on with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by the first president of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
In the parliamentary elections of November 2002, the AKP won the right to form the government. Due to his criminal record, Erdogan could not be elected or head the Cabinet, which was taken care of by the then vice-president of the party, Abdullah Gul. Erdogan became a deputy only in March 2003, after the rule that prohibited citizens with criminal records from running for the legislative body was repealed. Since then and for more than a decade, until August 2014, the politician held the post of Prime Minister, de facto leader of the then parliamentary republic.
During this time, the country’s GDP increased by more than two times, going from 314,500 million dollars in 2003 to 938,950 million in 2014, according to data from the World Bank. At the same time, inflation decreased significantly, going from 21.6% to 8.9%, while the redenomination of the Turkish lira took effect, which resulted in the elimination of six zeros.
Besides, control over the army was strengthenedwhich has traditionally had a great influence on the political processes in the nation, with the arrest of hundreds of soldiers under the accusation that they were preparing coups.
During his time at the helm of the Government, Erdogan advocated turn Turkey into a presidential republicTherefore, in 2007 amendments to the Constitution were introduced that established the holding of presidential elections by popular vote as a mechanism to elect the head of state.
On August 28, 2014, Erdogan became president of Turkey with 51.8% of the vote. His policy of Islamizing the country and weakening the influence of the military led to a coup attempt, which occurred on July 15, 2016. However, with the support of the population and military and police units loyal to Erdogan, the uprising was put down.
Ankara accused the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulenwho resides in the US and had sympathizers among members of the Army and the Police, to orchestrate the failed uprising. After that episode, the state of emergency was introduced, which lasted until July 2018, while more than 13,000 people were arrested for participating in the coup.
Following this political earthquake, Erdogan changed the control system in the Armed Forceswhich ceased to be subordinated to the General Staff, becoming under the control of the Ministry of Defense.
problems with inflation
Despite the economic achievements of his era, high inflation rates seriously affected to the country in the last years of the Erdogan Presidency, which clung to a non-traditional monetary course to combat inflation. Thus, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased in February of this year by 3.15%, with the annual inflation index located at 55.18%.
In contrast to the practices of other central banks that raise interest rates to reduce the money supply, combat rising prices and stabilize national currencies, the Turkish president advocated lower the interest rate, arguing that this would stimulate growth and lending in the country. Likewise, Erdogan argued that his monetary policy course was justified by the values of islamthat prohibits usury as a way to make a profit.