Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the Turkish election it has officially been confirmed extending his iron rule for a third decade. 

Thousands of people took the streets of Ankara and Istanbul with flares and flags to celebrate the result, which will mean Erdogan’s dominant yet divisive rule will now continue until 2028.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was amongst the first world leaders to congratulate the presiding leader, who he called his ‘dear friend’. He said the win was evidence that the Turkish people appreciated Erdogan’s ‘independent foreign policy’. 

Erdogan’s secular opposition rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 74 branded the presidential race as ‘the most unjust election’ of Turkey’s history’, as he spoke to supporters ahead of the announcement. 

In his first comments since the polls close, Erdogan thanked his supporters in Istanbul for entrusting him with the ‘responsibility to govern this country once again for the upcoming five years’.

He ridiculed his opposition for his loss shouting ‘bye bye bye, Kemal’ as his supporters booed and told the crowd ‘the only winner today is Turkey’. 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory outside his home in Istanbul and thanked his supporters in a speech

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory outside his home in Istanbul and thanked his supporters in a speech

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory outside his home in Istanbul and thanked his supporters in a speech 

He told his supporters while speaking on top of his campaign bus that they were together 'until the grave' before ridiculing his opposition's loss shouting 'bye bye bye, Kemal'

He told his supporters while speaking on top of his campaign bus that they were together 'until the grave' before ridiculing his opposition's loss shouting 'bye bye bye, Kemal'

He told his supporters while speaking on top of his campaign bus that they were together ‘until the grave’ before ridiculing his opposition’s loss shouting ‘bye bye bye, Kemal’

As the polls closed those supporters of the incumbent took to the streets with Turkish flags preemptively celebrating his victory

As the polls closed those supporters of the incumbent took to the streets with Turkish flags preemptively celebrating his victory

As the polls closed those supporters of the incumbent took to the streets with Turkish flags preemptively celebrating his victory

Speaking in Ankara following Erdogan’s announcement, Kilicdaroglu said the presidential race had been ‘the most unjust election’ of Turkey’s history.

He said: ‘I wasn’t able to defend your rights. I did not shirk against an unjust structure, I could not be a silent devil and I was not.

‘I could not stand quiet against millions of people becoming second-class citizens in this country.

‘I could not let them stand all over your rights. For your children to go to bed hungry. For farmers to not to be able to produce. I could not allow these things.’

Following Erdogan’s declaration, the Turkish lira slipped to a fresh record low, opening at 20.05 to the dollar as a new trading week got underway. 

Vladimir Putin was amongst the first world leaders to congratulate the President on his reelection.

He said: ‘The victory in the elections was a natural result of your selfless work as head of the Republic of Turkey, a clear evidence of the Turkish people’s support for your efforts to strengthen state sovereignty and pursue an independent foreign policy.

‘We highly appreciate your personal contribution to the strengthening of friendly Russian-Turkish relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas. I would like to confirm our readiness to continue our constructive dialogue on topical issues on the bilateral, regional and international agenda. 

Speaking in Ankara following Erdogan's announcement, Kilicdaroglu said the presidential race had been 'the most unjust election' of Turkey's history

Speaking in Ankara following Erdogan's announcement, Kilicdaroglu said the presidential race had been 'the most unjust election' of Turkey's history

Speaking in Ankara following Erdogan’s announcement, Kilicdaroglu said the presidential race had been ‘the most unjust election’ of Turkey’s history

Supporters of Erdogan celebrate near Taksim Square in Istanbul as the president declares victory

Supporters of Erdogan celebrate near Taksim Square in Istanbul as the president declares victory

Supporters of Erdogan celebrate near Taksim Square in Istanbul as the president declares victory 

Kilicdaroglu, chairman of Turkey's Republican People's Party Chairman, greets his supporters as he left the polling station

Kilicdaroglu, chairman of Turkey's Republican People's Party Chairman, greets his supporters as he left the polling station

Kilicdaroglu, chairman of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party Chairman, greets his supporters as he left the polling station

‘We attach great importance to the consistent implementation of the planned joint projects, primarily the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and the creation of a gas hub in Turkey.’ 

Leaders from Qatar, Libya and Azerbaijan, also congratulated Erdogan on his ‘victory’.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has already congratulated Turkey’s president on winning the election – even though the result is yet to be announced. In a tweet, the Emir wished Erdogan success in his new term.

Erdogan, head of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, appealed to voters with nationalist and conservative rhetoric during a divisive campaign that deflected attention from deep economic troubles.

The defeat of Kilicdaroglu, who promised to set the country on a more democratic and collaborative path, would likely be cheered in Moscow but mourned in Western capitals and much of the Middle East after Turkey took a more confrontational and independent stance in foreign affairs.

Supporters gathered at Erdogan’s Istanbul residence in anticipation of victory as data reported by both state-run Anadolu agency and the opposition ANKA news agency gave him the edge with nearly 99 per cent of ballot boxes counted. 

Speaking to those outside his Istanbul home, he thanked his supporters and told them ‘we are together until the grave’.

He said: ‘God willing, I will be worthy of your trust just like I have been for the last 21 years.

‘I had said before the election this love does not end here.’

Supporters of Erdogan celebrate in Istanbul this evening, as polls show he is in the lead

Supporters of Erdogan celebrate in Istanbul this evening, as polls show he is in the lead

Supporters of Erdogan celebrate in Istanbul this evening, as polls show he is in the lead

Supporters of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate outside AK Party offices in Istanbul, Turkey

Supporters of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate outside AK Party offices in Istanbul, Turkey

Supporters of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate outside AK Party offices in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish CHP party leader and Nation Alliance's presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and his wife Selvi Kilicdaroglu, vote at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey today

Turkish CHP party leader and Nation Alliance's presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and his wife Selvi Kilicdaroglu, vote at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey today

Turkish CHP party leader and Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and his wife Selvi Kilicdaroglu, vote at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey today

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan casts his ballot as his wife Emine Erdogan stands next to him at a polling station during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul on May 28

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan casts his ballot as his wife Emine Erdogan stands next to him at a polling station during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul on May 28

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan casts his ballot as his wife Emine Erdogan stands next to him at a polling station during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul on May 28

A young boy in the back of a car in Istanbul waves a flag supporting the incumbent president

A young boy in the back of a car in Istanbul waves a flag supporting the incumbent president

A young boy in the back of a car in Istanbul waves a flag supporting the incumbent president 

Joyful supporters of Erdogan take to the streets of Istanbul to celebrate Taskim Square

Joyful supporters of Erdogan take to the streets of Istanbul to celebrate Taskim Square

Joyful supporters of Erdogan take to the streets of Istanbul to celebrate Taskim Square 

His unexpectedly strong showing amid a deep cost of living crisis, and a win in parliamentary elections for a coalition of his conservative Islamist-rooted AK Party (AKP), the nationalist MHP and others, buoyed the veteran campaigner who says a vote for him is a vote for stability. 

He defied opinion polls and came out comfortably ahead with an almost five-point lead over his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round on May 14. 

But he fell just short of the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff, in a race with profound consequences for Turkey itself and global geopolitics.

Erdogan, who has been at Turkey’s helm for 20 years, is favoured to win a new five-year term.

The election will decide not only who leads Turkey, a NATO-member country of 85million, but also how it is governed, where its economy is headed after its currency plunged to one tenth of its value against the dollar in a decade, and the shape of its foreign policy, which has seen Turkey irk the West by cultivating ties with Russia and Gulf states.

More than 64 million people are eligible to cast ballots, with preliminary results expected within hours of the polls closing at 5pm local time today. The outcome could have implications far beyond Ankara with Turkey playing a key role in Nato.

Erdogan defied opinion polls and came out comfortably ahead with an almost five-point lead over his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round on May 14. But he fell just short of the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff, in a race with profound consequences for Turkey itself and global geopolitics. 

Kilicdaroglu cobbled together a powerful coalition of Erdogan’s disenchanted former allies with secular nationalists and religious conservatives.

Smoke from flares fills the air in Duzoe, Turkey, as supporters of Erdogan come out in force

Smoke from flares fills the air in Duzoe, Turkey, as supporters of Erdogan come out in force

Smoke from flares fills the air in Duzoe, Turkey, as supporters of Erdogan come out in force

Turkish polling stations have now closed in a presidential runoff that could see Erdogan extend his rule into a third decade. A crowd at an Erdogan rally in Istanbul on May 27, 2023

Turkish polling stations have now closed in a presidential runoff that could see Erdogan extend his rule into a third decade. A crowd at an Erdogan rally in Istanbul on May 27, 2023

Turkish polling stations have now closed in a presidential runoff that could see Erdogan extend his rule into a third decade. A crowd at an Erdogan rally in Istanbul on May 27, 2023

As the country awaits the official results, those supporters of Erdogan have been celebrating his victory

As the country awaits the official results, those supporters of Erdogan have been celebrating his victory

As the country awaits the official results, those supporters of Erdogan have been celebrating his victory

A person voting during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul today

A person voting during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul today

A person voting during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul today

Turkish Supreme Electoral Board Head Ahmet Yener (C) speaks to the press after voting ended at 5pm local time

Turkish Supreme Electoral Board Head Ahmet Yener (C) speaks to the press after voting ended at 5pm local time

Turkish Supreme Electoral Board Head Ahmet Yener (C) speaks to the press after voting ended at 5pm local time

A woman watches the news on a big screen on the day of the second round of the presidential election in Turkey today

A woman watches the news on a big screen on the day of the second round of the presidential election in Turkey today

A woman watches the news on a big screen on the day of the second round of the presidential election in Turkey today

Opposition supporters viewed it as a do-or-die chance to save Turkey from being turned into an autocracy by a leader whose consolidation of power rivals that of Ottoman sultans.

Kilicdaroglu said after casting his vote in the first round: ‘I invite all my citizens to cast their ballot in order to get rid of this authoritarian regime and bring true freedom and democracy to this country.’ 

But Erdogan still managed to come within a fraction of a percentage point of winning outright in the first round.

In the first round of voting on May 14, Erdogan got 49.5 per cent support. Kilicdaroglu received 44.9 oer cent support. Nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan came third with 5.2 per cent support and was eliminated. The outcome confounded the expectations of pollsters who had put Kilicdaroglu ahead.

Should he win today, Erdogan would remain in power until 2028, and is likely to push Turkey down an increasingly authoritarian path through his muscular foreign policy and unorthodox economic governance. 

After three stints as prime minister and two as president, the devout Muslim who heads the conservative and religious Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is already Turkey’s longest-serving leader. 

Erdogan’s success came in the face of one of the world’s worst cost-of-living crises, with almost every opinion poll predicting his defeat.

Turkish citizens arriving to cast their votes in Tekirdag today

Turkish citizens arriving to cast their votes in Tekirdag today

Turkish citizens arriving to cast their votes in Tekirdag today

Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People's Party, Erdogan's political rival

Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People's Party, Erdogan's political rival

Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party, Erdogan’s political rival

Waiting outside an Istanbul polling station on Sunday, 93-year-old Ozer Atayolu told AFP he always arrived first to vote ‘because I believe in democracy and my responsibility as a citizen’. 

‘I feel like a child having fun,’ the retired textile engineer said.

Some opposition supporters, however, sounded defeated as they emerged from the polls.

Bayram Ali Yuce said in one of Istanbul’s heavily anti-Erdogan neighbourhoods said: ‘Today is not like the last time. I was more excited then.

‘The outcome seems more obvious now. But I still voted.’

Kilicdaroglu tried his best to keep his disappointed supporters’ spirits up.

‘Do not despair,’ he said on Twitter after the vote. But he then vanished from view for four days before re-emerging a transformed man.

The former civil servant’s old message of social unity and democracy gave way to desk-thumping speeches about the need to immediately expel migrants and fight terrorism.

His right-wing turn was targeted at nationalists who emerged as the big winners of the parallel parliamentary elections.

The 74-year-old had always adhered to the firm nationalist principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the military commander who formed both Turkey and Kilicdaroglu’s secular CHP party.

But these had played a secondary role to his promotion of socially liberal values practised by younger voters and big-city residents.

Analysts question whether Kilicdaroglu’s gamble will work.

His informal alliance with a pro-Kurdish party left him exposed to charges from Erdogan of working with ‘terrorists’.

The government portrays the Kurdish party as the political wing of outlawed militants.

Supporters of the Republican People's Party waving flags at an election rally in Istanbul

Supporters of the Republican People's Party waving flags at an election rally in Istanbul

Supporters of the Republican People’s Party waving flags at an election rally in Istanbul

Erdogan, 69, defied opinion polls and came out comfortably ahead with an almost five-point lead over his rival in the first round on May 14. Erdogan is pictured yesterday

Erdogan, 69, defied opinion polls and came out comfortably ahead with an almost five-point lead over his rival in the first round on May 14. Erdogan is pictured yesterday

Erdogan, 69, defied opinion polls and came out comfortably ahead with an almost five-point lead over his rival in the first round on May 14. Erdogan is pictured yesterday

And Kilicdaroglu’s courtship of Turkey’s hard right was hampered by the endorsement Erdogan received from an ultra-nationalist who finished third two weeks ago.

The political battles are being watched closely across world capitals because of Turkey’s footprint in both Europe and the Middle East.

Erdogan’s warm ties with the West during his first decade in power were followed by a second in which he turned Turkey into NATO’s problem child.

He launched a series of military incursions into Syria that infuriated European powers and put Turkish soldiers on the opposite side of Kurdish forces supported by the United States.

His personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has also survived the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine despite Western sanctions against Moscow.

Turkey’s troubled economy is benefiting from a crucial deferment of payment on Russian energy imports, which helped Erdogan spend lavishly on campaign pledges this year.

Erdogan also delayed Finland’s membership of NATO and is still refusing to let Sweden join the US-led defence bloc.

The Eurasia Group consultancy said Erdogan was likely to continue trying to play world powers off each other should he win.

‘Turkey’s relations with the US and the EU will remain transactional and tense,’ it said.

Turkey’s unravelling economy will pose the most immediate test for whoever wins the vote.

The election will decide not only who leads Turkey but also how it is governed, where its economy is headed after its currency plunged to one tenth of its value against the dollar in a decade, and the shape of its foreign policy. Pictured: A man shows his ballot today

The election will decide not only who leads Turkey but also how it is governed, where its economy is headed after its currency plunged to one tenth of its value against the dollar in a decade, and the shape of its foreign policy. Pictured: A man shows his ballot today

The election will decide not only who leads Turkey but also how it is governed, where its economy is headed after its currency plunged to one tenth of its value against the dollar in a decade, and the shape of its foreign policy. Pictured: A man shows his ballot today

Erdogan went through a series of central bankers until he found one who started enacting his wish to slash interest rates at all costs in 2021 – flouting the rules of conventional economics in the belief that lower rates can cure chronically high inflation.

Turkey’s currency soon entered a freefall and the annual inflation rate touched 85 percent last year.

Erdogan has promised to continue these policies, despite predictions of economic peril from analysts.

Turkey burned through tens of billions of dollars while trying to support the lira from politically sensitive falls ahead of the vote.

Many analysts say that Turkey must now either hike interest rates or abandon its attempts to support the lira – two solutions that would incur economic pain.

‘The day of reckoning for Turkey’s economy and financial markets may now just be around the corner,’ analysts at Capital Economics warned.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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