Turkey’s Erdogan announces victory in presidential election after scandalous campaign

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday announced victory in the presidential election, ending a tight race and extending his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade.

Erdogan’s victory follows high inflation and the aftermath of an earthquake that razed entire cities to the ground.

Speaking from the roof of a bus in Istanbul after the polls closed, Erdogan addressed his supporters, thanking them for entrusting him with the presidency for another five years.

“The only winner today is Türkiye,” Erdogan said. “No one can look down on our nation.”


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters after the preliminary results of the exit poll in the second round of the presidential elections in Istanbul, Turkey, May 28, 2023. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS)

He ridiculed his rival Kemal Kilicdaroğlu for his loss, saying “bye bye Kemal” as the fans booed him.

Competing news agency results showed that with nearly 99% of the ballot boxes open, Erdogan received 52% of the vote, compared to 48% for Kılıçdaroğlu.

Kilicdaroglu said the elections were “the most unfair in history” when all state resources were mobilized for Erdogan.

“We will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle until real democracy comes to our country,” he said in Ankara. He thanked the more than 25 million people who voted for him and asked them to “stay loyal”.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu claps his hands

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a presidential candidate for Turkey’s main opposition alliance, gestures after speaking after the preliminary exit poll results in the second round of the presidential election in Ankara, Turkey, May 28, 2023. (REUTERS/Yves Herman TPX PICTURE OF THE DAY)

A third term gives Erdogan an even stronger hand at home and internationally, and the election results will matter not only in Turkey, which stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and plays an important role. key role in NATO.

On the international stage, Erdogan’s government vetoed Sweden’s NATO bid and purchased Russian missile defense systems, prompting the United States to pull Turkey out of the US-led fighter jet project. But it also helped secure a crucial deal that allowed the supply of Ukrainian grain and averted a global food crisis.

Erdogan, who has been at the helm of Turkey for 20 years, nearly won in the first round of elections on May 14. It was the first time he failed to win an election outright, but he made up for it on Sunday.

Erdogan seeks re-election

A man walks past billboards of Turkish President and People’s Alliance presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, April 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)


A devout Muslim, he leads the conservative and religious Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdogan turned the presidency from a largely ceremonial role into a powerful post thanks to a 2017 referendum that narrowly won Turkey’s parliamentary system of government. He was the first directly elected president in 2014 and won the 2018 election which opened the office of executive president.

Erdogan, 69, will remain in power until 2028.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.