Turkiye's Second Round of Presidential Election Held Today, Erdogan Expected to Win
Turkiye's citizens have cast their votes in the second round of the presidential election today, Sunday, May 28, 2023. This second round is expected to provide an opportunity for the incumbent President Tayyip Erdogan to extend his power into a third decade. Erdogan's potential victory could intensify Turkiye's increasing authoritarianism, robust foreign policies, and unconventional economic governance.
Erdogan's Narrow Lead in the First Round
As reported by Reuters, Erdogan (69) managed to overturn the poll results by a slim margin, securing almost five points higher than his competitor Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round of the Turkiye presidential election held on May 14. However, he failed to achieve the required 50 percent of votes to secure an outright victory. Erdogan's unexpected lead in the first round of the Turkiye presidential election occurred amidst a deepening cost-of-living crisis in the country. The second round will not only decide who leads Turkiye, a NATO member with a population of 85 million people, but also determine the direction of its governance and the path of its economy after a decade of currency devaluation against the dollar.
Implications for Turkiye's Future
The elected President of Turkiye will not only shape the country's leadership but also influence its foreign policy. Under Erdogan's leadership, Turkiye has exhibited a "less aligned" stance with the West, choosing to foster relationships with Russia and Gulf countries instead.
In the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, with a majority Kurdish population, retired citizen Faruk Gecgel (54) expressed his intention to vote for Erdogan in the second round, just as he did two weeks ago. According to him, "It is important for Turkiye's future that the president and parliament, where he holds the majority, work together under one roof. So, I am choosing Erdogan again for stability." Meanwhile, Canan Tince (34), a housewife, stated her preference for Kilicdaroglu, who received almost 72 percent support in the city on May 14, representing the main pro-Kurdish opposition party. She emphasized the need for change to address Turkiye's economic crisis and other pressing issues, saying, "Enough is enough. Change is crucial, and I am choosing Kilicdaroglu again. We hope and are determined." The polling for the second round of the Turkiye presidential election began at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and will conclude at 17:00 (14:00 GMT). By Sunday evening, there should be a clear indication of the winner.
Surveys Indicate Erdogan's Lead
Kilicdaroglu (74) represents the opposition alliance comprising six parties and leads the Republican People's Party (CHP), founded by Turkiye's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. His camp has struggled to regain momentum after surprisingly trailing Erdogan in the first round of the presidential election.
However, Sinan Ogan, the third presidential candidate and a hardline nationalist, has declared his support for Erdogan based on the principle of relentless struggle against terrorism, referring to the pro-Kurdish group. In the first round, Ogan received 5.17 percent of the votes. This decision by Sinan Ogan is seen as further strengthening Erdogan's position in the second round of the presidential election.
A survey conducted by the polling agency Konda for the second round places Erdogan's support at 52.7 percent, while Kilicdaroglu is at 47.3 percent. The survey, conducted on May 20-21 before Ogan and Ozdag expressed their support, garnered significant attention.
Turkiye's historian, Nicholas Danforth, believes that a nationalist figure will emerge as the winner in this Turkiye presidential election. "Turkiye has a long-standing tradition of democracy and a long-standing nationalist tradition, and it is clear that nationalism is currently prevailing. Erdogan has combined religious and national pride, offering aggressive anti-elitism to the voters," said Nicholas Danforth. "Erdogan again means Erdogan again. People know who he is and his vision for the country, and it seems that many of them agree," he added. However, if Turkiye's people desire Erdogan's downfall, it is largely due to declining welfare, equality, and their ability to meet basic needs as a result of the inflation that reached 85 percent in October 2022.
On the other hand, Kilicdaroglu, a former civil servant, promises significant changes to Erdogan's policies regarding domestic, foreign, and economic issues. He also pledges to return to a parliamentary system of governance, replacing Erdogan's executive presidential system established through a referendum in 2017.