June 9, 2023

Dubai Week

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Reuters: Turkey’s opposition supporters are in despair after presidential election

Opposition voters in Turkey expressed their disappointment and disbelief on Monday after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came out on top in the first round of the presidential election, while the president’s jubilant supporters expressed hope that he would win on May 28.

“I have seen many elections. My 14-year-old daughter spent the whole night waiting for the election results and sleeping in frustration. This time they left me devastated,” said Mencer Ozaktak, 55, who works as a taxi driver.

By contrast, pro-Erdogan voters are optimistic about the prospects of extending his 20-year rule into a third decade.

“Tayyip Erdo─čan will win the second round,” said Sabri Shekhar, a retired civil servant.

A quiet atmosphere prevailed in the opposition camp during the night when the votes were counted. Before the election, Klikdaroglu was leading opinion polls by a small margin, and a poll on Friday showed him surpassing the 50 percent needed to secure an outright victory.

The opposition sought to capitalize on the anger of some voters over the country’s economic woes over an unconventional policy of lowering interest rates, causing a crisis in the lira and inflation. The government’s slow response since last February’s earthquake killed 50,000 people.

Some opposition supporters are hopelessly optimistic that Kilicdaroglu – the candidate of the six-party National Alliance – can win the second round.

“Nothing is the same. I think the run-off will be won by the coalition of the nation,” Husinoglu said.

Firdous Aydin, a 55-year-old retiree, was less optimistic. “I’m very disappointed,” he said. “Although I knew we would go to the run-off, I thought Kilicdaroglu would beat Erdogan in the first round.”

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With 99 percent of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan came in first place with 49.51 percent of the vote, followed by Kilicdaroglu with 44.88 percent, Turkish Supreme Election Commission head Ahmet Yener said.

Pro-government media celebrated the result, with the Yeni Safak newspaper writing that “the people have won”, noting Erdogan’s People’s Alliance won a majority in the new parliament and boosted Erdogan’s hopes of a run-off.

The results indicated that despite the cost-of-living crisis, Erdogan and his AKP managed to mobilize conservative voters.