Erdogan claims historic victory in Turkish presidential election - but nation remains divided

29 May 2023, 07:27

Erdogan's rule will now continue until 2028
Erdogan's rule will now continue until 2028. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been re-elected as the president of Turkey, extending his rule into a third decade.

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Erdogan's rule will now continue until 2028 after he won 52.14 per cent of the votes, with his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu winning 47.86 per cent.

The divisive leader's success will allow him to pursue increasingly authoritarian policies which have polarised Turkey and strengthened its position as a regional military power.

His challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, called it "the most unfair election in years" but did not dispute the outcome.

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks in front of his supporters after winning the Turkish presidential elections
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks in front of his supporters after winning the Turkish presidential elections. Picture: Alamy

In a victory speech in Ankara, Erdogan pledged to leave all disputes behind and unite behind national values and dreams.

But he then switched gears, lashing out at the opposition and accusing Kilicdaroglu of siding with terrorists.

He said releasing former pro-Kurdish party leader Selahattin Demirtas, whom he branded a "terrorist," would not be possible under his governance.

Erdogan said inflation was Turkey's most urgent issue.

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World leaders came together to congratulate Erdogan on his victory, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin addressed the Turkish leader as "Dear Friend", praising his efforts at strengthening Russian-Turkish relations.

"From the bottom of my heart I wish you new successes in such a responsible activity as the head of state, as well as good health and well-being," he added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also congratulated him and spoke of the need for the "further strengthening" of Ukraine and Turkey's "strategic" partnership.

UK PM Rishi Sunak tweeted: "Congratulations to @RTErdogan. I look forward to continuing the strong collaboration between our countries, from growing trade to tackling security threats as NATO allies."

US President Joe Biden said: "Congratulations to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Türkiye on his re-election.

"I look forward to continuing to work together as NATO Allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges."

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