Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held late-night celebrations after the president – who has been in office for 20 years – was confirmed to be in office for another five years.
“The whole country of 85 million people has won,” Erdogan told a cheering audience in front of the state palace in Ankara.
However, his attempts to call for unity felt hollow when he started badmouthing his opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
He also satirized Kurdish leaders who were in detention and pro-LGBT policies.
Erdogan’s opponents in the presidential election have so far not accepted his defeat.
Kilicdaroglu called it “the most fraudulent election in recent years”.
He claimed that the president’s political party mobilized all government resources to defeat him.
How big of a vote did Erdogan achieve?
President Erdoğan won with only about 52% of the vote based on incomplete official vote count results.
This is because nearly half of the electorate in the deeply divided country does not support Erdogan’s authoritarian vision for Turkey.
In the end, Kilicdaroglu was unable to beat Erdogan’s structured campaign.
Although he did manage to fight the president into the second round for the first time since the post was held in person in 2014.
But he barely hurt Erdogan’s lead in the first round. The polls showed Kilicdarogul was two million votes behind the president.
Erdogan celebrated his victory with great fanfare. He addressed supporters on a bus in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.
Then, as the sun set, he greeted a crowd of 320,000 from the top of his balcony at the state palace
“Not only did we win, Türkiye won,” said Erdogan. He called it one of the most important elections in Turkish history.
He mocked the defeat of his political opponents by saying “Bye, bye, bye, Kemal”. His words were later adapted into a rallying cry by his supporters in Ankara.
Erdogan criticized the opposition party’s decision to increase the number of members in a parliamentary vote two weeks earlier.
The actual number had fallen to 129, he continued, as the party had ceded dozens of seats to its allies.
He also condemned the opposition for their policies in favor of LGBT people.
According to Erdogan, this contradicts his campaign’s focus on raising families.
Although the results of the final vote count have not been confirmed, the Supreme Election Council said that there was no doubt about who would win.
Huge celebration downtown amidst soaring inflation
It’s not uncommon for the Turkish state palace to open its grounds to the public, but that’s the case with the results of this general election.
Erdogan’s reign will last for a quarter of a century.
Supporters came from all over Ankara to celebrate the victory. Arabic calls were heard and some placed Turkish flags on the grass as a mat for prayers.
For that one night alone, Türkiye’s economic crisis was forgotten. One Erdogan supporter, Seyhan, said it was just a lie:
“No one is hungry. We are all very happy with his economic policies. He will do even better in the next five years,” he said.
However, the president acknowledged that dealing with inflation is the most important issue for Turkey.
But it remains questionable whether he is capable of taking the necessary steps to solve the problem. The inflation rate reached 44% and has penetrated into all aspects of the life of the Turkish population.
The prices of groceries, house rent and daily necessities have soared.
The situation was made worse by Erdogan’s reluctance to observe general economic policies and raise interest rates.
Turkey’s currency, the Lira, has hit record lows against the US dollar and the central bank is struggling to meet the growing mass demand for foreign currency.
“If they continue with low interest rates, as Erdogan has decided, the only other option is tighter capital controls,” said Selva Demiralp, an economics professor at Koc University in Istanbul.
Economic problems are far behind the minds of Erdogan’s supporters, who continue to glorify Erdogan’s name in the midst of world leaders and his struggle against “terrorists”. In this case, namely Kurdish militants.
President Erdogan has accused his opponent of siding with terrorists, and criticized his pledge to free the former leader of Turkey’s second-largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Selahattin Demirtas has been in prison since 2016, even though the European Court of Human Rights requested that he be released.
Erdogan said as long as he is in power, Demirtas will remain behind bars.
He also promised to prioritize rebuilding areas damaged by the series of earthquakes last February and to “voluntarily” send back Syrian refugees.
Supporters thronged Taksim Square in downtown Istanbul, many of them from the Middle East and the Gulf.
Palestinians from Jordan cover themselves with the Turkish flag on their shoulders.
A migrant from Tunisia, Alaa Nassar, said that Erdogan not only made improvements for his own country, but “he also supports Arabs and Muslims”.
While many staged celebrations for Erdogan’s victory, the idea of unity in the polarized country seems more distant than ever.
Since the failed coup in 2016, Erdogan has removed the post of prime minister and assumed power. Instead, his political opponents vowed to reopen the position.
Turkey’s opposition must now regroup ahead of regional elections in 2024.
Source : BBC