Frustration overwhelming the Turkish opposition supporters after the presidential elections
Türkiye’s opposition voters expressed disappointment and disbelief on Monday after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan topped the first round of presidential elections, while jubilant supporters of the president expressed confidence he would win the May 28 runoff.
By contrast, pro-Erdoğan voters are optimistic about the chances of extending his 20-year rule for a third decade in a run-off against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the main opposition candidate.
A state of calm dominated the atmosphere of the opposition camp during the night while the votes were counted.
Before the elections, Kılıçdaroğlu topped opinion polls by a slight margin, as a poll on Friday showed that he had exceeded the 50% needed to achieve an outright victory.
The opposition aspired to take advantage of voters’ anger over the country’s economic woes, after an unconventional policy to cut interest rates caused a crisis in the lira and a rise in inflation.
The vote was also expected to be affected by slow government action after earthquakes that killed 50,000 people in February 6th.
Some opposition supporters remain defiantly optimistic that Kılıçdaroğlu – the candidate for the six-party nation alliance – can win the second round.
Kılıçdaroğlu has vowed to revive democracy after years of increasingly authoritarian Erdoğan’s rule.
Pro-government media celebrated the result, with Yeni Safak newspaper writing, “The people have won,” referring to Erdoğan’s People’s Alliance, which won a majority in the new parliament, apparently boosting Erdoğan’s hopes for a run-off.
The results indicated that Erdoğan and his AKP were able to mobilize conservative voters despite the cost of living crisis.
The prospect of Erdoğan holding the presidency for another five years would be an irritant for human rights activists, who are demanding reforms to contain damage they say has been done to democracy.
Erdoğan monopolized the authorities, silenced the mouths of the opposition, and controlled the media, the judiciary and the economy.
Erdoğan’s victory on May 28 may also dash the hopes of thousands of prisoners and political activists for their release.