Why Has Erdogan Won His Reelection?


Amidst a flurry of challenges, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged victorious in the second and final round of 2023 Turkish presidential election and is projected to retain his hold on authority. For over two decades, Turkey has been under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During the initial stages of his early tenures, Turkey witnessed a noteworthy surge in its economic prosperity and a marked decline in the levels of inequality prevalent within the country. This development has been marked as one of the factors that have contributed to Erdogan’s enduring popularity

As of November 2022, inflation has surged to a staggering 85.5%, marking a 24-year high. This development has sparked conjecture that the current economic turbulence may work as a catalyst against Erdogan’s favor in the 2023 general election. Notwithstanding, the prevailing circumstances, it is worth noting that in the first round-off of the election, Erdogan managed to secure a significant 49.5% of the total votes cast and finally, became Turkey’s president for another term securing 52.14% of the votes. In this respect, Erdogan’s “great achievements” in science, technology, foreign policy and related aspects have been touted as key factors in his sustained popularity, according to some analysts.

Science and Technology Advancements as Parts of Election Campaign

In the lead-up to the first round of the election, Erdogan inundated the public with a series of declarations regarding his notable accomplishments and forthcoming initiatives. In a bold move, Turkey has announced its intention to send its very first cosmonaut to the International Space Station before the year’s end. Moreover, the public was treated to a display of numerous projects at the Teknofest Aerospace and Technology Festival regarding this course. In a display of military might, President Erdogan unveiled Turkey’s latest additions to its arsenal–a versatile amphibious assault vessel and a cutting-edge armed drone with the unique ability to launch from aircraft carriers. In addition, under the leadership of President Erdogan, Turkey has taken significant strides toward achieving energy independence through the natural gas pipeline project in the Black Sea. Turkey’s ambitious plan to become a global leader in the defense industry has seen a staggering investment of over £55 billion in its national defense industry.

Despite failing to deliver on its promise of a fully Turkish-made vehicle and facing worsening labor conditions, the Togg car has surprisingly garnered significant public backing. According to recent survey results, a staggering 94% of the population has exhibited their support behind the initiative. The overwhelming majority of respondents cited nationalist and patriotic reasons for their backing, with many expressing a desire to contribute to their own country in which Erdogan’s campaign regarding the election played a remarkable role. The automobile was hailed as a significant triumph that would contribute to Turkey’s roster of continuing accomplishments. In a recent statement, President Erdogan lauded ‘Togg as a source of collective pride’ for both the nation of Tukey and its 85 million citizens. The intrepid entrepreneurs behind Togg have been hailed as “brave fellows” by him.

Erdogan’s Foreign Policy Achievements

Situated at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, Turkey under the tenure of Erdogan has deftly navigated the tumultuous waters of an ever-evolving global landscape. From fluctuating international partnerships to the humanitarian fallout of civil conflicts, cross-border terrorism, and mass migration, this nation has faced a host of challenges with resilience and adaptability. Over the past two decades, Ankara has carefully traversed a pragmatic foreign policy, resulting in an elevated standing for its position in the global order. However, throughout the years, Turkey has implemented a series of economic reforms aimed at drawing in foreign investment, promoting privatization, and facilitating the job creation in sectors such as construction. These measures have enabled Turkey to allocate resources towards its foreign policy objectives. Moreover, Navigating the intricate web of relationships through a balancing act with its neighbor countries ravaged by conflict and turmoil presents a fresh array of obstacles and prospects.

More importantly, ever since the onset of the Ukraine war in February 2022, global leaders have been on tenterhooks. The impact of the war on the worldwide economy and the apprehension that it may escalate into a broader confrontation have compounded the prevailing anxieties. Throughout the year-long war, Ukraine and Russia found themselves in a state of constant disagreement. However, amidst the tension, a glimmer of hope emerged in the form of the Black Sea grain deal. This groundbreaking initiative was brought to fruition through the collaborative efforts of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the United Nations. In addition, in a diplomatic move, Erdogan has extended an offer to act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine in order to bring an end to the ongoing hostilities, finding a peaceful solution. While many NATO countries have been quick to impose economic embargoes on Russia, Turkey has taken a more measured approach. Despite Russia being an important trading partner, Turkey has pursued a delicate neutral stance and shown restraint and refrained from blindly following the lead of its NATO allies.

Erdogan’s Earthquake Management

The series of earthquakes that recently shook south-eastern Turkey and parts of Syria have had a profound impact on the political landscape. With a death toll exceeding 24,500 in Turkey and 4,500 in Syria, and thousands of more injured, the scale of the disaster has brought about a precarious implication at all levels. The aftermath has also left an unknown number of individuals missing. As a result, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s election plans have been thrown into disarray. However, despite forecasts from analysts that the catastrophe would negatively impact Erdogan’s potential for reelection, the voting results exhibited them unequivocally incorrect. Per reports, President Erdogan and his AK Party had emerged as the clear frontrunners in eight out of the 11 harmed provinces, both in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the Nation Alliance and the leader of the leftist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has only managed to secure a significant lead in Adana and Diyarbakir.

However, president Erdogan has made numerous trips to earthquake-stricken areas and has swiftly initiated a massive reconstruction effort across the country. After the series of earthquakes caused widespread destruction in rural regions, the Erdogan government announced plans to construct 650,000 homes, including 143,000 village homes. There have been thousands of container homes brought to earthquake zones to help meet the housing requirements of the people there, and the government has promised to build at least 319,000 more housing within a year. As a result, Ankara’s diligent efforts to enhance the basic necessities of those affected by earthquakes have yielded positive results, as evidenced by the recent election outcomes that heavily favored the Erdogan-led coalition and the AK Party in the most devastated regions.

Kemal’s Anti-Refugee Campaign vs Erdogan’s Balanced Stance

Before the election, a particular phrase has been making its rounds on billboards throughout the country. In a controversial move, Kemal Kilicdaroglu and his opposition has opted for a slogan that has been deemed by some as racist in order to gain an advantage in the current election cycle. The primary objective of the propagation appears to be the repatriation of Syrian refugees, even if it means endangering their lives. According to opposition leaders, ensuring the safety and job security of Turkish citizens without encroachment from other nationalities is of utmost importance. On the other hand, Erdogan pursued a balanced stance regarding the refugees particularly, the Syrian refugees. In a recent address, President Erdogan highlighted his administration’s commendable efforts in voluntarily repatriating 560,000 refugees. He further vowed to continue this worthy goal by facilitating the return and resettlement of an additional 1 million refugees.

The potential normalization of relations between Turkey and the Assad regime is closely linked with the issue of refugee repatriation. Against the backdrop of mounting xenophobia in Turkey, exacerbated by the country’s economic disarray, and the recent rapprochement with the Assad regime in the Arab world, the prospect of Turkish-Syrian normalization seems increasingly inevitable. In a recent development, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister and member of the AKP revealed to the local media that a “plan of action” for the “practical” come back of refugees to regime-controlled areas of Syria was importantly discussed in a meeting with the top diplomats of the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia in Moscow. However, apart from all the developments, Erdogan has also been able to manage the Kurdish opposition, the Western media propagation against him and overall followed a scrupulous approach that led him gain an ultimate victory in the national election of 2023.

– Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a Research Intern at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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