Turkey: Erdogan wins his country’s most critical vote

‘The only winner is Türkiye,’ President Erdogan said in his election victory speech, as the veteran leader’s new tenure ushers in a new era in Turkey, after a presidential race watched by the world

A key player in international affairs and a dominant force in local politics, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is back for another tenure. The incumbent president won more than 52% of the vote in Sunday’s second round of presidential elections, according to unofficial results, securing a five-year tenure as Turkey’s leader.

Now the longest-serving among the presidents of the Republic of Turkey, the president hailed it as a victory for his nation.

“The only winner today is Türkiye,” he said, highlighting that he would never discriminate against anyone who did not vote for him. The beginning of the “Century of Türkiye” was another theme of his victory speech at the Presidential Complex early Monday.

The election was closely watched by the world due to Erdoğan’s rising role in global affairs as Turkey raised its diplomatic profile, from brokering a grain deal to emerging as a country more independent from the West it long relied on for its defense and borrowing needs.

Developments in its immediate region, from conflicts in its neighbor Syria and between its close allies Ukraine and Russia also increased the importance of the elections. For his supporters encompassing the Arab and Muslim world he maintains warm ties with, Erdoğan’s win was also significant.

Leaders across the world sent their congratulations, highlighting the enlarged role of Turkey and Erdogan in global politics, especially at a time of delicate diplomatic maneuvers Turkey pursues over the future of the NATO alliance under the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Turkey’s close ties with Russia also highlight Erdoğan’s importance in the resolution of the global food crisis and energy security. According to the media outlets, the president was scheduled to hold a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday night, a rare meeting for the leaders of the two countries at odds on a number of issues.

Often portrayed as a “divisive” leader by the Western media, Erdogan, who repeatedly underlined his respect for supporters of his rivals while hitting out at their leaders on the campaign trail, renewed his embracing tone in a victory speech.

“I thank every citizen, regardless of their choice, who cast their ballots and proved the strength of our democracy,” Erdogan said in his speech.

“We always accepted the outcome of elections, and we always respect the nation’s will. Türkiye, as a whole, won today. Every segment of our nation won. I said it before and will say it again: Nobody will lose when we win.”

“We have a responsibility given by our nation, and this requires us not to distance ourselves from any member of the nation,” he said, highlighting that it was “time to stand united.”

“Power of Türkiye lies within the unity of 85 million people,” he added.

Western media

Erdogan’s victory received extensive coverage in Western media outlets, including those criticized by Erdogan for their biased coverage of the elections and portraying him as an “autocrat.”

Media reports stressed the global and regional significance of Turkey. The London-based weekly The Economist, which had published a cover with the subheadline “Erdogan must go,” said in an article that the opposition lost “the best shot in a generation of unseating Mr. Erdogan.”

“As in many elections before, rumours of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political demise turned out to be vastly exaggerated,” an article in the British weekly began.

The British public broadcaster BBC stressed that Erdogan’s victory matters for the West, given Turkey’s global strategic significance, which increased even further against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“The West used to describe Turkey’s strategic importance as the bridge between Europe and the Middle East – but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has transformed Turkey’s status,” it said, noting that world leaders rushed to congratulate Erdogan’s election victory.

Skynews, a major private broadcaster in the U.K., similarly underlined that “Türkiye holds a unique position in world politics, both as the junction between Europe and Asia and as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea.” In a separate analysis, the broadcaster also said: “Erdogan has once again proved critics wrong and out-maneuvered his toughest challengers.”

The major British daily Guardian said Erdogan appealed for national unity in the victory speech he delivered to hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens who gathered outside the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara.

Germany’s public television ARD highlighted that Erdogan received messages of congratulations from all over the world on Sunday night on his election victory.

“Erdogan democratically won the elections in Türkiye,” reporter Uwe Lueb said in a commentary published on ARD’s website, adding that there have been no allegations of electoral fraud.

“Now he has mammoth political tasks ahead,” he stressed, referring to the economy, recovery efforts in the earthquake region, and the ongoing domestic debate about the Syrian refugee issue.

The weekly Der Spiegel reported that Turkish citizens living in Germany overwhelmingly voted for Erdogan in the presidential runoff.

In France, the daily Le Figaro wrote on its website on Monday: “Erdogan master of Turkey for five more years,” and covered Erdogan supporters’ celebrations in the country, while the daily Le Monde said the president won a third term.

The weekly Le Point on its website said Erdoğan’s victory was “no surprise,” and the daily Liberation on its headline said: “Türkiye: Erdogan forever,” noting that the president’s supporters celebrated across the country on Sunday.

In Italy, the public broadcaster RAI stressed that numerous world leaders, including those of the major Western countries, congratulated Erdoğan on his reelection to office.

The daily La Repubblica, citing Turkish citizens it interviewed, said Turkish people are convinced that Erdoğan “will fix the things.”

Belgium media outlets also covered Erdoğan’s victory. “Elections in Türkiye: Erdogan, eternal winner” was the daily Le Soir’s website headline on Monday, while La Libre announced Erdogan’s victory, as well.

Swiss newspapers similarly covered Erdogan’s victory on Monday. World leaders congratulated Erdoğan, the daily Le Matin said, marking Erdoğan’s invincibility.

Very extensively covering the Turkish elections, the Greek public broadcaster noted that Erdogan’s victory did not come as a surprise to Athens.

Speaking to ERT, Alexandros Diakopoulos, the former national security adviser, said that “the (Turkish) people want a strong leader, and Erdogan projects this model.” The daily Kathimerini stressed Erdoğan’s promise of “the century of Türkiye.”

Another major daily, Ta Nea, said: “He (Erdoğan) won this election by literally standing alone against everyone.” A columnist in the daily To Vima praised Erdogan’s “pragmatic and accommodating foreign policy,” saying: “Turkey needs the West and the West needs Turkey.”

Bulgaria’s state-run news agency BTA shared the Turkish election results without much commenting on them.

Albania’s English-language Albanian Daily News highlighted the messages by world leaders and Türkiye’s strategic importance in regional and global affairs.