Erdogan wins Turkey re-election

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defeats opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu

ISTANBUL   -   Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has vexed his West­ern allies while tightening his grip on power during 20 years as the NATO country’s paramount politi­cian, won re-election on Sunday, ac­cording to unofficial results pub­lished by state media.

The state news agency Anadolu re­ported that Mr. Erdogan had 52.1 percent of the vote, compared with 47.9 percent for his challenger, the opposition candidate Kemal Kilic­daroglu, with almost all votes count­ed. Mr. Erdogan addressed his sup­porters for giving him another five years in office from atop a white bus outside of his home in Istanbul and thanked them for their support in a runoff election that delayed his victo­ry by two weeks.

“We will be together until the grave,” he said. Mr. Kilicdaroglu, address­ing supporters late Sunday, did not con­test the results but said the election, in which Mr. Erdogan leveraged his state power, had been unfair. During the first round of voting two weeks ago, Mr. Erdo­gan’s party and its political allies main­tained a majority in Parliament, allow­ing the president to argue that keeping him in power would mean a more effec­tive, united government. “Our nation with all its colors will win,” Mr. Erdogan said during his final campaign rally in Istanbul on Saturday. “The democracy that we paid such a price for will win.” Anger at a pain­ful cost-of-living crisis turned some vot­ers against the president, and powerful earthquakes in February that killed more than 50,000 people in southern Turkey prompted accusations that his govern­ment had initially been slow to respond.

Addressing supporters, Erdogan said voters had given him the responsibility to rule for the next five years. “The only winner is Turkey,” he said, addressing cheering supporters from atop a bus in Istanbul. Final official results have yet to be released. There was no immediate response to Erdogan’s victory speech from his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The election had been seen as one of the most consequential yet for Turkey, with the opposition believing it had a strong chance of unseating Erdogan after his popularity was hit by a cost-of-living cri­sis. Instead, victory will reinforce his im­age of invincibility, after having already redrawn domestic, economic, security and foreign policy in the NATO member country of 85 million people and posi­tioned Turkey as a regional power.

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