Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in the presidential runoff election on Sunday, May 28, 2023, defeating his main rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP).
According to the head of Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK), Erdogan won 52.14% of the votes, while Kılıçdaroğlu received 47.86%. This is the first time in Turkey’s history that a second round of voting was held after no candidate secured more than 50% of the votes in the first round on May 14.
Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003 as prime minister and then president, will now serve another five-year term until 2028, extending his rule into a third decade. He will also continue to enjoy sweeping executive powers that were granted to him after a constitutional referendum in 2017.
Erdogan’s supporters celebrated his victory by waving flags, honking car horns and chanting his name outside his residence in Istanbul, where he delivered a speech thanking his voters and promising to work hard for Turkey’s second century. The country marks its centennial this year.
“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said. “No one can look down on our nation.”
Erdogan also ridiculed his opponent for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal,” as supporters booed.
Kılıçdaroğlu, who had campaigned on a platform of restoring democracy, freedom and human rights in Turkey, conceded defeat and congratulated Erdogan on his win. He also urged him to be a president for all Turks and to respect the rule of law and the separation of powers.
“I hope that this election will be beneficial for our country and our people,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “We will continue to defend our principles and values as the main opposition party.”
The election was widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian style of governance, which has polarized Turkey and strained its relations with its Western allies. Erdogan has faced criticism for cracking down on dissent, media freedom and civil society, as well as for pursuing an unorthodox economic policy that has led to high inflation and currency devaluation.
The election was also marred by allegations of fraud and irregularities by both sides, as well as by violence that left several people dead or injured. The opposition alliance had complained of unfair media coverage, intimidation of voters and observers, and manipulation of ballot boxes and counting procedures.
The international community has expressed concern over the state of democracy and human rights in Turkey, and urged Erdogan to respect the will of the people and to work with the opposition to address the country’s problems.