Incumbent Erdogan claims victory in Turkey’s presidential runoff
Turkey (AP) — Turkey's incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory Sunday in his country's runoff election, extending his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade.
With nearly 99 per cent of ballot boxes opened, unofficial results from competing news agencies showed Erdogan with 52 per cent of the vote, compared with 48 per cent for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
In his first comments since the polls closed, Erdogan spoke to supporters on a campaign bus outside his home in Istanbul.
“I thank each member of our nation for entrusting me with the responsibility to govern this country once again for the upcoming five years,” he said.
He ridiculed his challenger for his loss, saying “bye bye bye, Kemal,” as supporters booed.
“The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said.
In Istanbul, Erdogan supporters began celebrating even before the final results arrived, waving Turkish or ruling party flags, and honking car horns.
The outcome could have implications far beyond Ankara. Turkey stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and it plays a key role in NATO.
Erdogan's government vetoed Sweden's bid to join NATO and purchased Russian missile-defense systems, which prompted the United States to oust Turkey from a U.S.-led fighter-jet project.
Erdogan, who has been at Turkey's helm for 20 years, was favoured to win a new five-year term in the second-round runoff, after coming just short of outright victory in the first round on May 14.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote at a school in Istanbul, Erdogan noted that it's the first presidential runoff election in Turkey's history. He also praised high voter turnout in the first round and said he expected participation to be high again on Sunday. He voted at the same time as Kilicdaroglu, as local television showed the rivals casting ballots on split screens.
“I pray to God, that it (the election) will be beneficial for our country and nation,” he said.
Critics blame Erdogan's unconventional economic policies for skyrocketing inflation that has fuelled a cost-of-living crisis. Many also faulted his government for a slow response to the earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey.
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