Turkey’s President ErdoganTurkey’s President enter third decade in power

Sajjad Azhar

With 97 percent of ballot boxes opened, Erdogan reportedly received 52.1 percent of votes in the second round on Sunday, beating his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who won 47.9 percent.
The elections, in which more than 64 million Turks at home and abroad were entitled to vote, took place against a background of a cost-of-living crisis that saw inflation peak at 85 percent in October and earthquakes in February that killed more than 50,000 people.
Erdogan, 69, who came to power in 2003, initially as prime minister, offered a vision of further development, promising to extend the improvements made by his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

NATO member Turkey’s longest-serving leader was tested like never before in what was widely seen as the country’s most consequential election in its 100-year history as a post-Ottoman republic.
Erdogan’s opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, cobbled together a powerful coalition that grouped the president’s disenchanted former allies with secular nationalists and religious conservatives.
“I invite all my citizens to cast their ballot in order to get rid of this authoritarian regime and bring true freedom and democracy to this country,” Kilicdaroglu said after voting in the run-off.
In his first comments since the polls closed on Sunday, Erdogan spoke to supporters on a campaign bus outside his home in Istanbul.

This handout photograph taken and released by the Turkish Presidency Press Office on May 28, 2023 shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing supporters gathered outside his residence following his victory in Turkish presidential election at Kisikli district in Istanbul. The head of Turkey’s election commission on May 28, 2023 declared President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the winner of a historic runoff vote that will extend his 20-year rule until 2028. – (Photo by MURAT CETIN MUHURDAR / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)

“I thank each member of our nation for entrusting me with the responsibility to govern this country once again for the upcoming five years,” said Erdogan, the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
He ridiculed his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal,” as supporters booed.
“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said, after unofficial results gave him the win in the second round of voting.
Big decisions ahead
Erdogan has no shortage of work ahead of him — and his decisions will continue to have impacts far beyond Turkey’s borders. The country of 85 million people boasts NATO’s second-largest military, houses 50 American nuclear warheads, hosts 4 million refugees and has taken up a key role in Russia-Ukraine mediation. Western allies will also now be waiting to see whether Erdogan finally agrees to accept Sweden’s application to join NATO.
Erdogan served as Turkey’s prime minister from 2003 to 2014 and president from 2014 onward. He came to prominence as mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, and was celebrated in the first decade of the new millennium for transforming Turkey’s economy into an emerging market powerhouse.
Recent years, however, have been far less rosy for the religiously conservative leader, whose own economic policies have contributed to inflation surpassing 80% in 2022 and Turkey’s currency, the lira
, losing some 77% of its value against the dollar over the last five years.
International and domestic voices alike also sound the alarm that Turkey’s democracy under Erdogan is looking less democratic by the day.
The frequent arrests of journalists, forced closures of many independent media outlets and heavy crackdowns on past protest movements — as well as a 2017 constitutional referendum that vastly expanded Erdogan’s presidential powers — signal what many say is a slide toward autocracy.
The Turkish president rejects the criticisms. But with a fresh mandate to lead and previous reforms consolidating presidential power, very little stands in the way of a stronger Erdogan than ever before.

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