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Turkey election 2023: What's at stake in the runoff, how close is the race?

Erdogan and his AK Party have shifted Turkey away from Ataturk's secular blueprint

Istanbul

Erdogan supporters hold a rally, ahead of the May 28 presidential runoff vote, in Istanbul on Friday photo: reuters

Reuters

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan aims to extend his rule into a third decade in an election on Sunday, with the momentum seen in his favour in the runoff vote after a first round showed him ahead of his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

What it means for Türkiye ...

The most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern Turkish republic, Erdogan and his AK Party have shifted Turkey away from Ataturk’s secular blueprint.

Erdogan’s critics say his government has muzzled dissent, eroded rights, and brought the judicial system under its sway, a charge denied by officials who say it has protected citizens in the face of security threats including a 2016 coup attempt. 
Economists say Erdogan’s calls for low rates sent inflation soaring to a 24-year high of 85 per cent last year.

... and the rest of the world?

Under Erdogan, Türkiye has flexed military power in the West Asia and beyond. Türkiye also saw a series of diplomatic clashes with regional powers Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Israel.

However, Türkiye also brokered a deal for Ukrainian wheat exports, underlining the potential role Erdogan has staked in efforts to end the war. 

Just how close is the race?

Kilicdaroglu got 44.9 per cent in the first round compared to 49.5 per cent for Erdogan, reflecting support despite a deep cost-of-living crisis and polls which had shown Kilicdaroglu in the lead. Pollsters later pointed to an unexpected surge in nationalist support at the ballot box to explain the result. reuters

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First Published: May 26 2023 | 11:42 PM IST

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