Erdogan rants against ‘LGBT forces’ as Biden congratulates him on Turkey election win

Erdogan secured more than 52 per cent of the vote in Sunday's run-off, two weeks after he fell short of scoring an outright victory in the first round

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 31 May 2023 14:10 BST

Thousands gather outside Turkish presidential palace after Erdoğan re-elected

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated his presidential run-off victory on Monday after an election that stretched his rule into a third decade, lashing out at “LGBT+ forces” in the country.

In his victory speech in the Istanbul district of Uskudar three hours after the polls had closed, Mr Erdogan claimed to have achieved “a victory where nobody is left behind”.

However, he went on to hit out at LGBT+ people and said the opposition was promoting gay rights, an appeal to his ultra-conservative religious base. “In our culture, family is sacred. No one can interfere. We will strangle anyone who dares to touch it,” he told supporters, according to a report by The Times.

His victory had opened the door to the “century for Turkey”, he added. The election had been seen as Erdogan’s biggest political challenge for years, with opinion polls making opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu the favourite to unseat him.

Yet Mr Erdogan was ahead by four percentage points in the first round and prevailed in the run-off with 52.2 per cent of the vote to Mr Kilicdaroglu’s 47.8 per cent.

Erdogan’s victory has extended his rule into a third decade

Mr Kilicdaroglu said it was “the most unfair election in years” but did not dispute the outcome. He had promised to set Turkey on a more democratic and collaborative path during the election, yet also lurched towards the right with anti-immigrant rhetoric in the final stretch of the campaign.

The victory extends Mr Erdogan’s tenure as the longest-serving leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established modern Turkey following the collapse of the Ottoman empire a century ago.

Following Sunday night’s results, US president Joe Biden wrote on Twitter of Mr Erdogan: “I look forward to continuing to work together as Nato allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges.”

Mr Erdogan is set to speak with Mr Biden over the phone later on Monday, broadcaster NTV reported citing a presidential spokesperson. Relations between the US and Turkey have suffered in recent months due to Mr Erdogan’s objections to Sweden joining Nato as well as Ankara’s relationship with Moscow.

While Mr Erdogan now has the mandate to rule Turkey until 2028, he has to confront skyrocketing inflation that has fuelled a cost of living crisis. He also has to oversee rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in February.

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