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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