Turkey’s Erdogan Says He Could Win the Presidential Election, Willing to Accept Runoff if Needed

by Joshua Brown
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Turkey’s President Erdogan has been in power for the past 20 years and it was a close race on Monday morning. The final votes were being counted and it could go either way – he might win or lose against his main opponent.

Turkey is about to have an election that decides who will be their leader. People will vote either soon or in two weeks, and the result will decide if their current leader, Erdogan, stays in office or if his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu takes over. Even though Erdogan said he thinks he could win the upcoming election, he promised to accept whatever decision the people make.

President Erdogan said Monday that we don’t know yet if our country held an election in one round or two. He also added that the votes from citizens living outside of Turkey still need to be counted, and he got 60% of those votes in 2018.

This year’s election mainly focused on topics like the economy, civil rights, and a huge earthquake that killed over 50,000 people. Western countries and investors paid close attention to the results because of the unusual way Turkey’s leader was running the economy and his successful negotiations with other nations.

Almost all the votes are now counted, and it looks like current president Erdogan will not get enough support to stay in office. According to reports from the Anadolu state news agency, Erdogan has 49.4% of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu from a six-party alliance has 44.9%.

Kilicdaroglu believes that in the second round of voting he can win and bring about a new era for democracy. He also thinks that Erdogan has lost the public’s trust as many people are now calling for change.

Turkey’s election authority, the Supreme Electoral Board, said that they are giving statistics to political parties quickly and will make all the counts public when it is finished. Most of the votes from overseas people who can vote must still be counted up and this could mean there will be an election again on May 28th if no one wins right away.

Howard Eissenstat, who studies Middle East history and politics at St. Lawrence University in New York, thinks that Erdogan has an advantage in a second round of voting because the president’s party will likely do really well in a parliamentary election held on Sunday. He believes this is because people would not want two different governments running at once.

Erdogan has been the leader of Turkey since 2003. He was running for election and the surveys said that he was a bit behind his opponent. However, when the first results from Anadolu Agency showed Erdogan winning, people from his rival’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) thought it was because they were biased in his favor.

Omer Celik, who speaks for Erdogan’s political party called the Justice and Development (AK), accused the opposition of trying to challenge the whole country’s decision. He said that their words were “irresponsible”.

Erdogan is trying to get elected for another five-year term in order to stay Turkey’s leader for many more years. At the same time, Kilicdaroglu wants people to vote for him so that he can bring back things like freedom of speech and fix an economy affected by high prices and a weaker currency.

Turkey’s citizens have voted in an election to help fill the 600 seats in Parliament, while not having as much power as they used to due to a referendum that happened in 2017. According to the Anadolu news agency, President Erdogan’s party alliance is close to getting 49.4 percent of the votes, Mr. Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance has 35%, and support for a pro-Kurdish party is above 10%.

Turkey’s President Erdogan said that even though the election results are not final, the nation has still chosen them as their leaders. 64 million people were allowed to vote in this year’s elections, and nearly 89% of them actually did so. This year marks 100 years since Turkey became an official country and stopped being a part of the Ottoman Empire.

In Turkey, lots of people usually vote even though their government does not let them do things like talk about what they think and get together with other people. The failure of a coup attempt in 2016 was blamed on a man named Fethullah Gulen by the ruler Erdogan. This made Erdogan crackdown hard on anyone linked to Gulen and anybody who supported the Kurdish group.

People all around the world were watching this election to see if an allied group of people could defeat the leader with a lot of power. This leader wanted even more control and also has been working on trying to make themselves seen in the wider world.

Turkey’s president Erdogan teamed up with the United Nations to make a deal between Russia and Ukraine. This allowed food from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea to move around the world, even when there was war in Ukraine. The plan ended soon, so Turkey held talks last week to keep it going.

Turkey’s leader, Erdogan, won’t let Sweden join NATO until they agree to his demands. He wants them to take punishments against people who follow a U.S. cleric, and also those in the pro-Kurdish groups that Turkey says are dangerous for their country.

People who don’t like the president think that his tough decisions are causing a lot of people to have a hard time paying for their everyday needs. The government recently said that the inflation rate dropped from really high 86% to 44%. Opposing political parties even started using an onion as a symbol because prices on vegetables had risen so much.

But, the president doesn’t agree with what most people think about inflation – he believes if interest rates were lower then it would help reduce the cost of living. So, he asked the country’s Central Bank to decrease its main rate multiple times.

People were angry with Erdogan’s government because they think it took too long to respond when a big earthquake hit 11 provinces in the south. It is also believed that using poor construction rules caused more damage and suffering than needed.

In his election campaign, Erdogan tried to make people like him by using resources from the government and by controlling media. He accused the opposition of working together with criminals, of drinking alcohol and of supporting LGBTQ+ rights which he says are damaging traditional values in a Muslim country.

The Turkish leader tried to get more support by raising people’s salaries and pension payments, as well as reducing electricity and gas prices. They also highlighted the country’s own made defence and infrastructure projects.

The professor, Eissentat said that even though people need to get money and put food on the table, they still stick with their political party. Erdogan is trying to cause disagreements between groups of people by labeling one group as traitors and terrorists which plays on people’s feelings.

Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance wanted to return Turkey back to its normal democracy (the same kind of government as before). Also, they said that if they win the elections people can expect the army and the bank to be free again.

After voting in Ankara, Kilicdaroglu said: “We all missed democracy and being together!”

One person running for president in Turkey is Sinan Ogan. He was a professor before, and he has support from an anti-immigration political party. More than 5% of the votes have been counted for him so far. That means a lot of people are voting for Sinan! Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia, not just the Middle East.

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