Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured a third term in office, solidifying his authoritarian rule over the country. Despite Turkey facing challenges such as high inflation and the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, Erdogan’s victory has bolstered his domestic and international standing. Unofficial results, with over 99% of the ballot boxes opened, indicated that Erdogan received 52% of the vote, while his main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu garnered 48%. Expressing gratitude to the nation, Erdogan delivered speeches in Istanbul and Ankara to thank his supporters.
During his campaign, Kilicdaroglu vowed to reverse Erdogan’s principles, revive the economy through conventional policies, and enhance relations with the West. He criticized the election process, claiming that state resources were unfairly mobilized in favor of Erdogan. Nevertheless, Kilicdaroglu expressed appreciation to the millions who voted for him and pledged to continue the fight for genuine democracy.
Following Erdogan’s victory, his supporters took to the streets in jubilation, while world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, extended their congratulations. Erdogan’s unconventional economic strategies have faced criticism for contributing to soaring inflation and a crisis in the cost of living. Additionally, his government has been accused of responding sluggishly to the aftermath of the earthquake.
With his re-election, Erdogan’s grip on power is set to endure until 2028. Erdogan transformed the presidency from a ceremonial role to a powerful position through a 2017 referendum, consolidating authority in his hands. While his initial term witnessed reforms and economic growth, Erdogan subsequently curtailed freedoms and media independence, particularly following a failed coup attempt that the Turkish government attributed to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies involvement.
Critics of Erdogan’s regime point to his unconventional economic policies as a contributing factor to skyrocketing inflation and a cost-of-living crisis in Turkey. Furthermore, his government faced heavy criticism for its slow response to the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of over 50,000 people
Kilicdaroglu, leader of the pro-secular Republican People’s Party, sought to attract nationalist voters by promising to repatriate refugees and rejecting peace negotiations with Kurdish militants. The election coincided with the 10th anniversary of mass anti-government protests triggered by plans to remove trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, marking a pivotal moment in Erdogan’s crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression.
In his victory speech, Erdogan accused Kilicdaroglu of colluding with terrorists. The ramifications of Erdogan’s victory are expected to extend beyond Turkey, influencing the country’s role within NATO and its strategic position as a gateway between Europe and Asia.