Turkish voters divided after Erdogan election victory

Voters who wanted change said they were disappointed that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected whilst his supporters welcomed the continuity of his 20-year rule into a third decade early on Monday morning.

Erdogan defied forecasts of his political demise by winning a mandate on Sunday night to pursue increasingly authoritarian policies which have polarized Turkey and strengthened its position as a regional military power.

His challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, called it “the most unfair election in years” but did not dispute the outcome.

Official results showed Kilicdaroglu won 47.9% of the votes to Erdogan’s 52.1%, pointing to a deeply divided nation.

The election had been seen as one of the most consequential yet for Turkey, with the opposition believing it had a strong chance of unseating Erdogan and reversing his policies after his popularity was hit by a cost-of-living crisis.

Instead, victory reinforced his image of invincibility, after he had already redrawn domestic, economic, security and foreign policy in the NATO member country of 85 million people.

“Now we have a real resentful youth. I look at the people around me, who were supporting the opposition, and all of them are resentful. We forgot about spring in this country, we have to make our own spring because the people seem to be happy with winter. There’s nothing to do,“ said lawyer Hulya Yildirim when she was on her way to work on Monday morning.

“There’s a functioning system, and I don’t think it’s good to change this system. Any new government would have taken four to five years to rebuild the system and this will bring the country backwards. The system was not destroyed, I think everyone won,“ said Haydar Unal, who prefers how the country is run.

Erdogan’s victory extends his tenure as the longest-serving leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire a century ago – a politically potent anniversary to be marked in October with Erdogan in charge.

Turkey’s lira slipped towards a fresh record low against the dollar on news of Erdogan’s victory. The currency hovered above the 20.00 to the dollar threshold as trading got underway, not far off the 20.06 record low hit on Friday.

The lira, prone to sharp swings before regular trading hours, has weakened more than 6% since the start of the year and lost more than 90% of its value over the past decade with the economy in the grip of boom and bust cycles, rampant bouts of inflation and a currency crisis.

Since the 2021 crisis, the authorities have taken an increasingly hands-on role in foreign exchange markets. Daily moves have become unnaturally small and mostly recording a weakening while FX and gold reserves have dwindled.

In his victory speech, Erdogan acknowledged that inflation was the most urgent issue, but said it would also fall, following the central bank’s policy rate that was cut to 8.5% from 19% two years ago.

Source: Reuters