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Erdogan promises to accept outcome of presidential elections

Erdogan promises to accept outcome of presidential elections

Posted May. 15, 2023 07:57,   

Updated May. 15, 2023 07:57


With Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections carried out on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the possibility that he would refuse to concede if he loses. Recent polls have found that he is slightly outcompeted by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who represents the six-party Nation Alliance bloc in the ongoing presidential race. If Sunday's vote ends with no candidate gaining half the votes in the first round, the two most-voted candidates will go to the second presidential ballot on May 28.

Asked in an interview with a local TV channel two days before the first-round election if President Erdogan would willingly accept the outcome of the elections, he answered that he would consider whatever would come out legitimate, adding that he would accept no matter what democracy requires him to do, Reuters reported. The leader in power for the past 20 years since 2003 also argued that his two-decade rule was built and maintained in a democratic way.

The incumbent president, who is in effect out for lifelong leadership, embarked on this year's presidential race in a more disadvantageous position than ever before due to the disastrous earthquakes that hit northern Syria and southeastern Turkey earlier this year and chronic economic difficulties. Given this, the opposition parties and civic groups have worried that he, if he loses, might likely refuse to concede and demand reelection.

The election results can also bring about significant change in the international community. Despite its NATO membership, the Erdogan regime has been practically on bad terms with major Western countries criticizing his long-term leadership and political suppression of his opponents. Since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, he has seemingly supported Russian President Vladimir Putin. By contrast, the pro-Western contender Kemal Kilicdaroglu supports better relations with the EU and NATO countries. There are even some suspicions on the opposition-party side that Russia tries intervening in the elections by circulating fake news and carrying out cyberattacks to help the incumbent leader stay in power.

Sung-Hwi Kang yolo@donga.com