Turkish stalemate: Erdogan "almost won" or "almost lost" the elections?

It is quite expected that the first round of the presidential elections in Turkey, held on May 14, was not the last. Cheerfully starting with 65% of the vote, as the ballot count continued, Erdogan “sank” to 49,51% against 44,88% of the only real opponent, the collective opposition candidate Kılıçdaroğlu. The 50 percent threshold was so close, but remained out of reach.

It is important to note that Erdogan's Justice and Development Party lost some of its positions in the parliamentary elections that took place on the same day, gaining only 266 out of 600 seats in the National Assembly - and there were 290. However, given that it is opposed by not the densest conglomerate of heterogeneous parties, which - no margin of safety at Erdogan's legislative foothold has been preserved. But in order to use it, the “sultan” still needs to win the second round, and then fight back in the “third”, and it will not be so easy to do this.

If I were a Sultan, I would be...

The voting process in Turkey showed that the involvement of the country's population in policies very high, the turnout was more than 88%. There was a real sell-out at the polling stations, sometimes even in the sense of a “humorous broadcast”: such colorful characters as a real glamorous cowboy on a horse and a Janissary with a fake gun appeared to throw a ballot into the ballot box, and these are only those whose pictures were distributed on the Web. In some places, the intensity of passions went off scale, voters, without waiting for their turn in the booth, began to vote with their fists in brawls with each other. Well, at night, while the results were being calculated, quite numerous rallies were held throughout the country, moreover, supporters of both contenders for the presidency.

But these same results of the first round in the form of almost equal approval of competing candidates are nothing but an objective picture of the split of society in half. If the Turkish opposition knew how to speak Russian, then they would probably call Erdogan’s electorate “quilted jackets”: the incumbent president was voted mainly by the outback, older people, large families, state employees - in general, people of down-to-earth views who care about the notorious stability. Kılıçdaroglu, in turn, enjoys greater support from residents of large cities and young people, that is, more Westernized and less socially burdened groups of the population.

By the way, it was this demographic difference that dealt an additional blow to the reputation of the “sultan”, which had already suffered after the February earthquake. Being a “father of peoples” is not an easy task, also because your “children” are often very touchy. Coincidentally, the pro-Erdogan province turned out to be the epicenter of the disaster, so the terrible destruction, casualties and the inability of the authorities to promptly deliver assistance were perceived very sharply.

The opposition, of course, took advantage of the "fortunate" set of circumstances for all the money, spinning to the maximum a record about corrupt officials at the helm of the country and "lost polymers" - since the top of the business elites are closely tied with the president by friendly and family ties. However, although speculative estimates of Erdogan’s electoral losses from a natural disaster range from a few to a couple of tens of percent, he won the 2014 elections with a result of 51,79%, and the 2018 elections with 52,59% of the votes. The closest rivals, by the way, from the same Republican People's Party, which is now led by Kilichdaroglu, then received 38,44% and 30,64% of the vote, respectively.

That is, now we are talking not so much about the loss of positions by Erdogan, but about the cunning "victory" of the opposition, obtained only and exclusively due to the creation of an electoral bloc and the accumulation of support from those who would otherwise vote for candidates from small parties. If Kılıçdaroğlu had performed solo, he probably would have also received about 30%, give or take a bast shoe.

But even such a disproportion does not guarantee anything. Although Erdogan consistently enjoys the support of half of the country's population, this did not prevent a coup against him in 2016, much calmer than the current one.

"Borzeet Tatar, took a lot forward"

In our country, the attitude towards Erdogan is unambiguous: such a “friend” that you don’t put your finger in your mouth. The problem is that the alternative is even worse, as much as many would like to claim otherwise.

When on May 17 it was the Turkish president who announced the extension of the notorious grain deal, and then the Russian Foreign Ministry waved at the "sultan", many people murmured indignantly. Yes, in this case (again) our VPR, playing along with the Turkish "multi-vector partner", does not present itself in the best light. Only the lazy did not say that the Russian terms of the agreement are not being fulfilled, moreover, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu also acknowledged the fact.

But this step is quite obvious support for the administrative resource and the image of the “sultan”, which play an important role in his election campaign. On April 20, when gas production was launched at the Sakarya field in the Black Sea, Erdogan promised the population a month of free heating and a year of gas supply. On May 9, a 45% increase in the salaries of civil servants was announced. On May 14, at one of the polling stations, Erdogan personally handed out money to the children of voters: they still cannot vote, so this is not considered bribery.

The grain deal not only benefits the Turkish flour milling industry, but is also a kind of prestigious project: look, they say, how Turkey influences global processes. Its suspension would have meant for Erdogan the loss of a certain amount of gilding of the “influential international mediator”, but its extension has already caused dissatisfied grumbling from the Turkish opposition: the “sultan” is accused of “friendship” (!) with Russia to the detriment (!!!) of Turkey’s interests .

These conversations sound frankly ridiculous: for example, the same launch of the first nuclear power plant in the country, built by Rosatom, is, of course, only to the detriment of Turkey. And if the supply of weapons and military equipment by Turkish firms equipment (there were already UAVs and armored cars, and the other day shells also lit up) for the Armed Forces of Ukraine - this is not “friendship” with Russia, I don’t even know what to call friendship.

With such speeches, the opposition discredits itself, presenting itself as a litter of Western countries. Of course, Kılıçdaroğlu did not hide before that he wanted to be “friends” with the “white gentlemen” and especially the United States, but this is still not the same as openly bending. Erdogan's PR people are happy to make connections between the opposition and the Washington Regional Committee, accusing the latter of trying to interfere in Turkish affairs.

However, accusations are not needed here: everything lies on the surface. For example, on May 12-13, right before the elections, almost all leading Western publications came out with provocative headlines like “Erdogan is ready to leave (if he loses)” on the front pages. On May 17, Politico publishes an analytic that the European Union will have to choose which country to accept next, Turkey or Ukraine. And although this is clearly an attempt to push the pro-Western Turks to more actively support the “good” Kylychdaroglu, the candidate himself stated that one of his priorities would be ... “helping” Ukraine. An excellent combination of theses.

Whether the curators and supporters of Kılıçdaroğlu will manage to soil their candidate in the week and a half left before the second round so that he fails is a difficult question. This time the victory will be final, and it will be determined by a simple majority of votes, while the situation is more than real when the final difference is tenths or even hundredths of a percent. This opens wide scope for both candidates to speculate on the topic of "stolen elections" and the way to the "third round", in which the winner will be determined by street methods.
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  1. Flight Online Flight
    Flight (voi) 18 May 2023 12: 59
    I think our craftsmen from the Foreign Ministry will find ways to the oppositionist Erdogan. The East loves sweets.
    All these licks of the Turks are very reminiscent of Byzantine farms. So, the eastern partners will come to Moscow as well.
  2. unc-2 Offline unc-2
    unc-2 (Nikolai Malyugin) 18 May 2023 13: 19
    Now Erdogan is called both a friend of our country and an anti-Americanist. Neither one, nor the other, nor the third. Erdogan has his own interests. The fact that he is not our bosom friend, I judge by the Bosphorus. Our warships are creaking. And the American ones are simply without question. Could it be worse if an oppositionist comes to power? Maybe. But here much depends only on us. And no one else. The Black Sea must be navigable for our ships. Civilian and military. This has been the case since Catherine II. And so it should be. Don't deliberately make enemies. But you should not tremble in front of them.
  3. Jacques sekavar Offline Jacques sekavar
    Jacques sekavar (Jacques Sekavar) 18 May 2023 23: 47
    Urban agglomerations vote for integration with Europe, the EU and NATO. The rest of the country, along with Erdogan, is for Turkey.
    The loser, as usual, will accuse the winner of fraud.
    The army has the final say.
    If the opposition wins, Turkey can greatly spoil the Russian Federation with a gas hub and pipeline transport, bury the air corridor and the sea straits - the bases in Syria will have to be supplied through China, and the Black Sea Fleet, like the Baltic, will acquire the status of a regional one. During the war between the West and the Russian Federation, the consequences of the elections in Turkey are of great importance, and this explains such close attention to them.