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Turkey election: Germany, US congratulate Erdogan

Published May 28, 2023last updated May 29, 2023

Leaders around the world expressed their regards to Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he won another term. The opposition, meanwhile, had criticized the vote as "unfair."

Erdogan supporters tout their support for the incumbent as results come in from Turkey's presidential election runoff
Erdogan supporters eagerly waited news of his reelection victoryImage: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins reelection after runoff
  • US, Germany, Russia other countries congratulate Erdogan
  • The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has alleged irregularities

This live updates article has now been closed

World leaders congratulate Erdogan

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his election victory. 

"Congratulations to President Erdogan - together we want to advance our common agenda with a fresh impetus!" Scholz said on Twitter, hailing the two countries' close "partnership and alliance."

US President Joe Biden expressed his best wishes to Erdogan, saying he looked "forward to continuing to work together as NATO allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges."

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU wants to strengthen ties with Turkey.

"I congratulate (Erdogan) on winning the elections. I look forward to continue building the EU-[Turkey] relationship," she said.

"It is of strategic importance for both the EU and [Turkey] to work on advancing this relationship, for the benefit of our people."

Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated the Turkish leader, saying his victory was "the logical result" of his dedicated work as head of the Turkish Republic. Putin also praised Erdogan for his "personal contribution to the strengthening of friendly Russian-Turkish relations."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was counting on building the partnership with Turkey, in his congratulatory words to Erdogan. He said he looked forward to strengthening cooperation "for the security and stability of Europe."

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif described the long-reigning Turkish leader as a "pillar of strength for the oppressed Muslims" as well as an "ardent voice for their inalienable rights."  Qatar and Iran also offered their congratulations.

Separately, Hungary's Viktor Orban praised Erdogan's "unquestionable election victory" on Twitter.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated Erdogan on his reelection.

"[Guterres] looks forward to further strengthening the cooperation between [Turkey] and the United Nations," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

NATO, EU look forward to more cooperation

Both the European Union and the NATO alliance sent their congratulations to Erdogan, with whom both organizations have clashed multiple times during his 20-years of ruling Turkey.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he looked forward to working with Erdogan and preparing for the alliance's coming summit in July.

Turkey has actively played a role in the alliance, most recently with Erdogan blocking Sweden's accession and delaying Finland's.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she looked forward to advancing the EU's relations with Turkey "for the benefit of our people."

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also congratulated Erdogan, saying he looked forward to strengthening cooperation between Turkey and the UN.

Erdogan officially declared winner of the presidential vote

The Turkish electoral authority declared Erdogan the winner of the election which will see him secure another five-year term.

"Based on provisional results, it has been determined that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been elected president," Supreme Election Council chairman Ahmet Yener was quoted as saying by the Anadolu state news agency. 

Erdogan received 52.1% of the votes, Yener said, while his rival Kilicdaroglu received 47.8%, according to the preliminary results.

Kilicdaroglu says election was 'the most unfair' in years

Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu pledged to continue "leading this struggle" against the Erdogan regime.

"My real sadness is about the difficulties awaiting the country," he said, without explicitly conceding defeat.

He also decried "the most unfair election in years" after projections showed him losing to the nationalist president.

Erdogan says the 'only winner' is Turkey 

The Turkish president spoke to supporters shortly after declaring victory, saying voters had given him the responsibility of governing for the next five years. 

"The only winner today is Turkey," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.  

Erdogan's victory speech: Signs of what's to come?

Erdogan addressed supporters on a bus in Istanbul, thanking people for coming out to vote. "God willing, we will be deserving of your trust," he added. 

He also mocked his challenger for the loss, saying "bye bye bye, Kemal," as his supporters booed. 

Erdogan declares victory after presidential election

Turkey's Erdogan declared victory in the race, after both state and opposition affiliated media outlets put him in the lead with 97% of the vote counted.  

The state Anadolu news agency showed Erdogan at 52.1%, and his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, at 47.9%. 

The ANKA news agency, close to the opposition, put Erdogan's lead at 51.9%, with Kilicdaroglu garnering 48.1% of the vote. 

Meanwhile, the country's official electoral authority has tallied 54.6% of the votes so far, the agency's chief Ahmet Yener said. Erdogan is leading with 54.47% of the votes, while Kiliçdaroglu has 45.53%, Yener added. 

Erdogan widens the gap 

With nearly 90% of ballots counted, unofficial results seem to be putting Erdogan ahead of his rival. The state Anadolu news agency showed Erdogan leading with 53%, while his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, came in at 47%. 

The ANKA news agency, which is closer to the opposition, had Erdogan leading by 51% to Kilicdaroglu's at 49%. 

The Turkish electoral authority chief Ahmet Yener called for patience, as some 25% of the data has been entered so far. Yener urged people to wait for the final results. 

Outcome unclear as agencies provide conflicting results

Incomplete count reported by the Anadolu state news agency shows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the lead with 56.4% of the vote to rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu's 43.6%, with nearly half of the ballots counted.

At the same time, private news agency ANKA showed a much tighter race, with Kilicdaroglu in the lead.

DW was not able to verify either of the counts.

Turkish news agencies gather their data from completed ballot box counts which come from personnel on the field.

The country's electoral board sends its own data to political parties as the vote count unfolds, but it doesn't declare official results until days later.

Erdogan's popularity

DW special correspondent Aya Ibrahim said that Erdogan's voter base is "devoted to him in a way that looks beyond the economic challenges facing the country."

Ibrahim said that Erdogan "still enjoys huge popularity" in Turkey, with supporters crediting the incumbent president with bringing progress to the country and improving Turkey's healthcare system.

She said that Erdogan has used anti-LGBTQ rhetoric "to court more right-wing voters during the election campaign."

Worker's Party (TIP) candidate Talya Aydin told DW's correspondent that the "LGBTI community is right to feel threatened" under Erdogan's government due to banned Pride marches and other restrictions on freedom of assembly. 

Deeply divided Turkish society votes today

Opposition party reports attack on election observers

The deputy leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Ozgur Ozel, says that there has been an attack on the election observers at the polls.

Ozel said on Twitter that the CHP's election observers in a village in the southeastern Turkish province of Sanliurfa were beaten and their phones were broken after they objected to voting irregularities. He said that CHP lawmaker Ali Seker was on the scene.

The CHP deputy leader urged authorities to ensure the security of the election.

The German Press Agency (dpa) said it could not independently verify the report.

Candidates cast ballots in runoff

The two candidates in Turkey's second round of presidential elections have cast their ballots.

Incumbent president Erdogan noted that this was the first presidential runoff in Turkey's history. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and his wife Emine Erdogan, cast their ballots
Image: Murad Sezer/AP Photo/picture alliance

He said that he expected participation to remain high in the second round, urging voters to "turn out without complacency."

"I pray to God, that it (the election) will be beneficial for our country and nation," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu urged citizens to vote against Erdogan, calling his government an "authoritarian regime."

"In order to get rid of this authoritarian regime... I invite all my citizens to cast their ballot," Kilicdaroglu said after voting.

Kilicdaroglu called on his supporters to protect the ballot boxes "because this election is taking place under very difficult conditions." 

Kilicdaroglu and his wife, Selvi Kilicdaroglu, cast their ballots
Image: Yves Herman/REUTERS

Results quicker in second round — electoral authority

The results in the second round of voting in Turkey's presidential election should be available sooner than those of the first round were, according to electoral authority chief Ahmet Yener.

Yener said that the count could be expected to proceed faster due to the fact that only two candidates were involved.

The head of Turkey's national electoral authority said that voting had occurred without incident.

After the first round of voting, preliminary final results were not announced until noon the following day.

Turnout to be key in second round

DW correspondent in Istanbul Dorian Jones said that both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu emphasized the importance of voter turnout in their electoral campaigns.

"Both realize that turnout will be key to determining the outcome of this vote," he said.

Jones said that the incumbent president's voter base "still turned out in record numbers for Erdogan" in the first round of voting.

Overall turnout in the first round was just over 87% of eligible voters.

He said that Erdogan emphasized "continuity" in his campaign and pointed out that his party controls an absolute majority in parliament. "That in many ways is seen as his key card," Jones said.

Kilicdaroglu has maintained his broad coalition of six parties including secularists, conservatives, Kurdish parties and a far-right Turkish nationalist party.

Jones pointed to the fact that far-right candidate Sinan Ogan achieved 5% of the vote in the first round, saying that these voters "are seen as key to Kilicdaroglu if he can win."

"That's why he's taken a very hard line on migration, calling for the return of millions of Syrian refugees," Jones said.

Turkey elections: DW's Dorian Jones in Istanbul

Polls open in Turkey election runoff

Voters across Turkey headed to polling stations, which opened at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT/UTC) and were set to close at 5 p.m. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been at Turkey's helm for 20 years, is favored to win a new five-year term after coming just short of an outright victory in the first round on May 14.

His rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who was widely tipped to come out top in the first round has been attempting to play catch up during campaigning over the past two weeks.

Both candidates are trying to pick up the supporters of Sinan Ogan, who was knocked out in the first round and who received 5% of the vote.

But the hardline nationalist this week dealt a blow to Kilicdarogl by endorsing Erdogan.

The outcome of the country's first-ever election runoff is expected to start becoming clear by early evening. 

Turkish citizens queue outside a polling station in earthquake-hit Malatya
Voters headed to the polling stations early on SundayImage: Volkan Kasik/AA/picture alliance

Analyst to DW: Competition between political parties 'not fair'

Seren Selvin Korkmaz, a researcher at the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies and head of the Istanbul-based think tank IstanPol Institute, told DW ahead of the vote that the competition among Turkey's political parties is not fair.

"Turkey is now categorized as a competitive authoritarian regime, where elections are held regularly but competition among political parties is not fair," she said.

Korkmaz said that before the elections, the government used state funds for political campaigns, adding that independent judicial bodies are also controlled by government officials. 

She noted that just last year the electoral rules were changed in favor of the government. 

The Turkish government has also "very effectively" used its domination not only in the official media but also in the pro-government media, Korkmaz said.

The researcher listed a number of strategies which she argued helped President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to gain a slight lead in the first round of the presidential election. Those including rewarding loyalty and punishing the disloyal, using pro-government media to paint him as the only candidate who could ensure stability, and resorting to identity politics.

However, she recalled that Erdogan was also suffering from the economic crisis, which had caused disappointment among some of his supporters.

Both candidates urge people to vote

Both Erdogan and opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu rallied their supporters to vote on the final day of election campaigning.

Speaking to a rally in Istanbul's Beykoz district, Erdogan promised his supporters a "historical triumph" with a "vast majority," as he gears up for a first runoff vote.

The incumbent president also paid homage to his executed mentor, in an effort to mobilize his conservative base. Erdogan visited the mausoleum of Adnan Menderes, who was tried and hanged a year after the 1960 military coup, which restored Turkey to a more secular course.

People walk past an election campaign poster for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 25, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Erdogan has appealed to his conservative base on the eve of the runoffImage: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

"The era of coups and juntas is over," the 69-year-old declared after laying a wreath at his mentor's tomb in Istanbul. "I once again call on you to go to the ballot boxes. Tomorrow is a special day for us all."

Kilicdaroglu, meanwhile, called on "those who love their homeland" to "protect the ballot boxes" during a campaign event in Ankara. 

Who are the candidates and what's at stake?

Sunday's runoff election pits the country's decades-long ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan against challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Erdogan held what could be a vital lead in the first round of voting, defying opinion polls.

Turkey election: Erdogan still the man to beat

Erdogan has governed the country for the past 20 years, first as prime minister, starting in 2003, then as president from 2014 onwards. The strongly religious president founded his Islamic-conservative AKP (Justice and Development Party) in 2001.

The party won an absolute majority in parliament only a year later. Erdogan has not lost an election since, and after each victory he has found new ways to strengthen his grip on power.

He amended the constitution to introduce a presidential system in 2017 which saw him secure both the party chairman and the president posts at once.

Kilicdaroglu, by contrast, ran a more moderate campaign up until a few days ago. As the chairman of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's CHP party, he presented himself as a reconciler who wanted to unite Turkey's deeply divided society.

Among his promises was that of restoring the country's parliamentary system.

However, after the disappointing first round, the opposition opted for a radical change of course. Kilicdaroglu's appearances are now loud and aggressive; he strikes a much harsher tone, and rails against refugees in an effort to shore up voters.

Turkey elections: Syrians fear their place in society

Sunday's decisive vote is set to settle how the country will be governed, where its economy is headed and the shape of its foreign policy. 

Erdogan's critics have accused him of silencing opposition and driving inflation to astronomical figures, owing to his low interest rates policy.

Sluggish relief efforts after devastating earthquakes in the Turkish-Syrian border region earlier this year has also drawn fierce criticism towards Erdogan's government.  

sdi, rmt,jcg/wd,fb, dj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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