President Erdogan wins Turkish presidential election and calls for “unity and solidarity” | Abroad

The Supreme Electoral Council in Turkey has officially declared Recep Tayyip Erdogan (69) the winner of the Turkish presidential election. Earlier, Erdogan already claimed victory. According to the Supreme Electoral Council, the incumbent president received 52.14 percent of the electorate with almost all votes counted, against 47.86 percent for his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu. In his victory speech, the incumbent Turkish president called on his compatriots to “unity and solidarity”.


Latest update:
28-05-23, 23:39

Belga, ANP, Reuters

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The 69-year-old Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Islamic AK Party has now been in power for twenty years, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president. “It is time to put aside our differences from the electoral campaign and to pursue unity and solidarity around the dreams of our nation,” the state leader addressed the crowd gathered in front of the presidential palace in Ankara.

According to the latest results, shared by the state news agency Anadolu, Erdogan, with 98 percent of the vote counted, would have won 52.1 percent. His Social Democratic rival Kemal Kiliçdaroglu is stuck at 47.9 percent. Erdogan, meanwhile, was officially declared the winner by the election commission.

Turnout in the second round of Turkey’s presidential election was 85.59 percent, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Parliament seats lost

The secularist Kemal Kilicdaroglu (74) of the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) was previously put forward as a joint candidate by six opposition parties, hoping to defeat Erdogan. In the first round, Erdogan was just short of an absolute majority with 49.5 percent, so a second round was needed.

Neither the call for a new policy nor the earthquake, which claimed at least 50,000 deaths, have been able to bring about real change. The president’s conservative AKP party did lose a lot of seats in parliament, but retains the majority together with the coalition partners.

Opposing candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. ©Getty Images

Kiliçdaroglu has already expressed his disappointment. “I am deeply saddened by the difficulties facing the country,” he said at his party headquarters in Ankara.

Meral Aksener, the leader of the Turkish nationalist opposition party IYI, congratulated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his victory. She said she hopes that Erdogan will behave like “the president of all Turks”. Before these elections, IYI had allied itself with another opposition party, the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Aksener also expressed her disappointment at Erdogan’s victory speech in Istanbul, in which he sharply criticized the opposition’s presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the CHP. During the campaign, he had accused Erdogan, among other things, of being responsible for Turkey’s very high inflation. Casting his vote on Sunday, Kilicdaroglu called on voters to “liberate the country from the authoritarian regime”.

Victory is also celebrated in Antwerp and Ghent

More than 64 million Turks were allowed to vote, some of whom had previously done so abroad. Outside Turkey, the turnout was 51.53 percent. Turks also take to the streets in Antwerp and Ghent to celebrate President Erdogan’s victory. Honking cars with waving Turkish flags pass through the streets.

Congratulations from Putin and Zelensky

The Emir of Qatar became the first head of state to congratulate Turkish President Erdogan on his election win, although it is not yet official. “I wish you success in your new term,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani wrote on Twitter.

He hopes that Erdogan’s win will benefit “our two countries’ strong relations to develop and grow.” Turkey and Qatar have maintained a good relationship since Erdogan came to power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election as Turkey’s president, describing it as a “logical result”. “The result is clear evidence of the Turkish people’s support for your efforts to strengthen state sovereignty and conduct an independent foreign policy,” Putin said in a statement on the Kremlin’s website.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also sends congratulations to the incumbent Turkish president via Twitter, adding that he hopes to “strengthen Europe’s strategic partnership for security and stability”.

From Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to congratulate Erdogan. “France and Turkey have huge challenges to face together,” he wrote on Twitter. Macron spoke of the “return of peace in Europe, the future of our Euro-Atlantic alliance and the Mediterranean”.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also stressed the importance of cooperation in their congratulations to Erdogan. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz congratulated Erdogan, describing the two countries as “close partners and allies” whose “people and economies are deeply intertwined.”

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday evening with his victory after the Turkish presidential elections. “Belgium and Turkey are solid partners and we will continue to work closely together – bilaterally and in NATO – for a stable Europe and a stable world,” De Croo wrote on Twitter.

US President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter: “I look forward to continuing to work together as NATO allies on bilateral issues and global challenges.”

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Electoral observers attacked

There have been several reports of attacks against electoral monitors in Istanbul and the south-east of the country. For example, Ali Seker, a party member of Kilicdaroglu, said that he and opposition election officials were attacked by a group when they complained about irregularities. The incident occurred in a village in southeastern Turkey’s Sanliurfa province.

Before that, CHP faction leader Özgur Özel also announced on Twitter that electoral observers had been beaten and their phones broken. He criticized that there were not enough security forces on the ground and therefore called on the authorities to ensure the security of the poll.

Several election officials were also attacked in Istanbul, according to media reports. For example, Halk TV reported that opposition voters had been attacked in the districts of Gaziosmanpasa and Ümraniye and online medium wrote that in a school in the district of Bagcilar, lawyers were not allowed into the polling stations, which led to a small fight. The messages could not be independently verified.

Kilicdaroglu called on his supporters earlier Sunday to protect the polling stations because “these elections are taking place under very difficult circumstances”.

Free but not fair

About 61 million people have been called to vote. Turkish citizens in Belgium have already voted. The elections are widely regarded as free, but not fair. After the first round two weeks ago, international electoral observers denounced the government’s excessive media presence and lack of transparency in the elections. The electoral authority YSK is also regarded as politicized.

Sunday is also the anniversary of the 2013 anti-government protests in Gezi.

ANALYSIS. Why the Turkish electoral battle seems to be over before the second round (+)

PORTRAIT. Who is Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the man who may become Turkey’s next president? (+)

LOOK. Ballot boxes opened in Turkey for second round of presidential elections

A couple casts their vote at an election station in Ankara.
A couple casts their vote at an election station in Ankara. © ANP/EPA