Who won Turkey’s 2023 elections? Final results, and the high stakes at issue


Istanbul (Reuters) – Tayyip Erdogan extended his rule into a third decade by defeating Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Turkey’s presidential election on Sunday. Here are details on how it unfolded:

What Were The Final Results?

In the first round of elections on May 14, Erdogan received 27.13 million votes and his rival Kilicdaroglu 24.60 million votes, according to official results from the High Election Board of Turkey. Since none of the candidates received more than 50% of votes to win outright, a second round of elections were scheduled on May 28. Turnout in the first round was 87.04%.

In the second round, according to unofficial results released by the state-owned Anadolu news agency, Erdogan took 27.73 million votes, more than 52% of the total, while Kilicdaroglu garnered 25.43 million. The turnout on May 28 stood at 84.22% according to Anadolu data.

In the parliamentary vote on May 14, Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party won 35.61% of votes, tumbling some seven points from the 2018 election. But its alliance, including the nationalist MHP, retained a comfortable parliamentary majority.

Who Were The Candidate

Tayyip Erdogan

More than 20 years after he and his AKP came to power, Erdogan extended his tenure as modern Turkey’s longest serving ruler. His strong performance in the first election round on May 14, when he managed to mobilise nationalist voters, defied predictions of his political demise.

He has transformed Turkey, reshaping the secular state founded 100 years ago to fit his pious Islamic vision, while consolidating power in his hands in what critics see as a march toward autocracy.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu

Kilicdaroglu was the candidate of the main six-party opposition and chairman of the CHP, which was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state. Kilicdaroglu also received the support of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish parties that were not formally in the alliance.

He offered voters an inclusive platform and promised a democratic reset, including a return to a parliamentary system of government and independence for a judiciary that critics say Erdogan has used to crack down on dissent.

What Was At Stake?

Erdogan has a mandate to continue leading the NATO-member country of 85 million people, whose economy is mired in a cost-of-living crisis brought on largely, analysts say, by his maverick economic policies.

Erdogan’s policy of low interest rates despite surging prices drove up inflation to 85% last year, and contributed to the lira currency slumping to one tenth of its value against the dollar over the last decade.

The lira hit fresh record lows against the dollar on Monday after Erdogan secured his re-election.

Kilicdaroglu had pledged to return to more orthodox economic policy and to restore the central bank’s independence.

Erdogan’s critics say his government has muzzled dissent, eroded civil and human rights and brought the judiciary and other state institutions under its sway, an accusation denied by Turkish officials.

On foreign affairs, under Erdogan, Turkey has flexed military power in the Middle East and beyond, established closer ties with Russia, and seen relations with the European Union and United States become increasingly strained.

Turkey, along with the United Nations, also brokered a deal between Moscow and Kyiv for Ukrainian wheat exports to resume from Black Sea ports, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Erdogan announced on May 17 the latest two-month extension.

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