Turkey is headed for a runoff vote in two weeks’ time after neither Richard Erdogan nor his main challenger Kamal Klich Darolu won an outright majority in Sunday’s election. The results reflect the depolarization in a country at a political crossroads.
Having led the NATO member for 20 years, the vote was seen as a verdict on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian path. Erdogan’s opponent, Kamal Klich Darolu, who leads a six-party opposition alliance determined to unseat him, urged his supporters to be patient and accused Erdogan’s party of interfering with the counting and reporting of results.
Erdogan performed better than pre-election polls had predicted. He appeared in a confident and combative mood afterward, addressing his supporters in Ankara. He claimed to be millions of votes ahead of his competitor but stopped short of declaring an outright victory. The election was held against the backdrop of soaring inflation and in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes. Now, the country of 85 million people faces two weeks of uncertainty that could rattle markets.
The question of who eventually becomes Turkey’s next president will reverberate well beyond its borders. As one of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, a defeat for Erdogan would likely unnerve the Kremlin. However, it would bring comfort to the Biden Administration, as well as many European and Middle Eastern leaders who have had troubled relations with Erdogan.
Overall, the upcoming runoff vote in Turkey not only decides the country’s political future but also has the potential to reshape regional dynamics and impact international relations. With two weeks of uncertainty ahead, all eyes are on Turkey as it navigates this critical moment in its history.