*** ----> Erdogan declares victory in Turkey runoff election | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Erdogan declares victory in Turkey runoff election

AFP | Istanbul                                                              

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

The head of Turkey’s election commission yesterday declared President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the winner of a historic runoff vote that will extend his 20-year rule until 2028.

“Based on provisional results, it has been determined that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been elected president,” Supreme Election Council chairman Ahmet Yener was quoted as saying by the Anadolu state news agency. Erdogan won the election that posed the biggest challenge to his long years of transformative but divisive rule.

The 69-year-old leader overcame Turkey’s worst economic crisis in a generation and the most powerful opposition alliance to ever face his Islamic-rooted party to take an unassailable lead. Near complete results showed him leading secular opposition rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu by four percentage points.

“We will be ruling the country for the coming five years,” Erdogan told his cheering supporters from atop a bus in his home district in Istanbul.

“God willing, we will be deserving of your trust.” Turkey’s main cities erupted in car-honking jubilation while world leaders started congratulating the veteran leader on extending his rule for one last time. Russian President Vladimir Putin said it showed Turks’ support for “your efforts to strengthen state sovereignty and pursue an independent foreign policy”.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged “to continue to move forward” on joint global challenges and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky pledged to “further strengthen our strategic partnership”.

Former US president Donald Trump hailed Erdogan’s “big and well-deserved victory”. Traffic on Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square ground to a halt and huge crowds of singing and flag-waving supporters gathered outside his presidential palace in Ankara.

“Our people chose the right man,” 17-year-old Nisa Sivaslioglu said in the Turkish capital. “I expect Erdogan to add more to the good things he had already done for our country.” Turkey’s longest-serving leader was tested like never before in what was widely seen as the country’s most consequential election in its 100-year history as a post-Ottoman republic.

Kilicdaroglu pushed Erdogan into Turkey’s first runoff on May 14 and narrowed the margin further in the second round. Opposition supporters viewed it as a do-or-die chance to save Turkey from being turned into an autocracy by a man whose consolidation of power rivals that of Ottoman sultans. Kilicdaroglu did not formally concede defeat in a brief statement he read to reporters in Ankara.