Victory, Status Quo

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Turkish voters gave incumbent leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan another five-year term Sunday, a victory that came despite a sinking economy and a united opposition, the Washington Post reported.

Erdogan won 52 percent of the vote, the election board’s chairman said, giving the president a four-point victory over his opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Sunday’s election comes two weeks after both Erdogan and his main opponent Kilicdaroglu failed to secure at least 50 percent of the vote in the first round: The incumbent won 49.5 percent of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu secured 44.9 percent, USA Today reported.

That vote was initially seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s leadership: He has come under fire for eroding the country’s democratic institutions and consolidating his power during his two decades in power.

But his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies retained control of parliament, a victory that observers said would provide Erdogan momentum for the second round.

Erdogan remains popular among Turkey’s religious, conservative and nationalist voters, especially outside of Istanbul. During his tenure – which included stints as the country’s prime minister – he has survived a number of crises ranging from corruption allegations to an attempted military coup.

He is currently grappling with soaring inflation that passed the 80 percent mark last year and criticism stemming from the government’s handling of the earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in southern Turkey.

Ankara’s relations with its Western allies have also been strained under Erdogan, even as the president has raised the country’s diplomatic profile in recent years: Turkey has been involved in brokering a grain deal between warring Russia and Ukraine, for example.

Kilicdaroglu, meanwhile, had said he would mend relations with Western allies, tackle the country’s economic woes and return Turkey to a more secular and democratic path.

But analysts suggested that the results of the first election showed larger-than-expected support for nationalism – a powerful force in Turkish politics which has been hardened by years of hostilities with Kurdish militants and the influx of millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war, Reuters noted.

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