Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Sunday’s runoff presidential election, establishing him as one of the great survivors in recent political history and securing his outsize role in global affairs for what could be years to come.
The head of Turkey’s election board declared Erdogan the victor. Erdogan won 52.13% of the votes, with his challenger, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, claiming 47.87% with more than 99% of ballot boxes opened.
The president’s victory also opens a new phase of his rule: one in which his personal appeal has transcended the declining popularity of his own Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is losing support amid a severe economic crisis that is likely to be his biggest challenge in the coming years.
Erdogan’s re-election defied the odds as crises piled up in the months leading up to the election. Turkey’s sky-high inflation and the cataclysmic earthquakes in February battered his poll numbers. An illness in April whisked him off the campaign trail for days. Arrayed against him was the most credible political challenge to his rule in years, one that united for the first time most of the country’s disparate opposition parties.
Yet the Turkish president proved that he remains the same tactician who rose from a childhood in Istanbul’s docklands to the presidential palace, surviving a coup attempt in 2016 before maneuvering himself into a position of leverage in Russia, the West and beyond. [Continue reading…]