Erdogan looks set to cement his hold on Turkey – in an election where he’s made all the rules

Ahead of the final presidential vote on Sunday, Erodgan has forced his opponent to change tack to try and close the gap from the first round, writes Borzou Daragahi. It has given him greater control over the narrative of the election

Wednesday 24 May 2023 16:46 BST
<p>Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul</p>

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will likely get the election he wanted: an exciting contest that riles up his supporters but leaves his domestic opponents falling short – while being just transparent and free enough to win the grudging nod of western leaders who had hoped he would leave office.

As Erdogan, 69, heads into the decisive second round of the presidential elections this Sunday against Kemal Kilicdaroglu – who is heading up a six-party opposition coalition – all signs point to him cementing his hold over this nation of 85 million for another five years.

The president has faced anger for months over the state of the country’s economy – on a years-long doward spiral – and his government’s slow response to devasting earthquakes that killed 50,000 people in February. But he managed to use his considerable power over state institutions and information channels to shape the election battlefield and came out with 49.5 per cent of the vote in the first round – falling just a half-percentage point or 155,000 votes short of scoring an outright victory – compared with Kılıcdaroglu’s 44.9 per cent.

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