Turkish elections: still in suspense

Everything points to a second round in Turkey’s presidential election. With almost all the votes counted, President Erdoğan has a clear lead (49.4 percent) against opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu (just under 45 percent), but is still short of an absolute majority. Europe’s press concludes that the implications of the second round, which would likely take place in two weeks, go far beyond Turkey’s borders.

Polityka (PL) /

A lab for testing how to deal with populists

Polityka eagerly awaits the second round:

“Turkey’s future will depend not only on the outcome of the run-off vote on 28 May. With a victory against the authoritarian, nationalist Recep Erdoğan, who promotes autocracy and despises the freedoms of liberal democracy, the opposition would send a strong signal to the world that such politicians can be defeated. And that this can be achieved even when the playing field is not level and there can be no question of it having been a fair election campaign from the outset. At the same time, Turkey would then become a huge social and political laboratory for state repair after populist rule. Today, we still rely on theoretical models in this regard.”

Mateusz Mazzini
Naftemporiki (GR) /

A vote on relations with the EU

Turkey’s relationship with the EU is the key issue for voters, Naftemporiki comments:

“Perhaps no one has summed up the dilemma of the elections as well as the current Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ: ‘People will either celebrate with champagne or swear an oath to God on the prayer mat.’ ... To say that relations between Brussels and Turkey have cooled would be an understatement. They are at the freezing point. There has not been a single serious attempt in Brussels to revive the accession negotiations for years. From the Commission’s point of view this is pointless as long as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is at the head of the Turkish power apparatus.”

Michalis Psilos
De Tijd (BE) /

Who can save the economy?

What counts most for citizens is the economy, De Tijd notes:

“Beyond all the strategic and geopolitical issues, in the end the economic situation remains the top priority for Turks. Skyrocketing inflation has wiped out the economic success of Erdoğan’s first years. How to get the economy get back on track is not clear, no candidate has a proper recipe for that. For Turkey, however, it will make a difference. The story of the key elections in 2023 is not over yet. And the final outcome will also be of key importance for Europe.”

Jean Vanempten
Večernji list (HR) /

Women and first-time voters decisive

There is still a lot at stake in this election, Večernji list stresses:

“Analysts are convinced that the votes of women were decisive in opposing Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which protects women from violence. ... Women are the most influential group in these elections — along with six million young first-time voters whose votes could also be decisive. The whole world is eagerly watching these elections and their outcome, which will directly influence the geopolitical power structure and balance in the context of the military conflict between the Eastern and Western blocs playing out on Ukraine’s territory.”

Hassan Haidar Diab
Milliyet (TR) /

Democratic duty fulfilled

Milliyet praises the high turnout and peaceful voting process:

“Citizens queued up with their ballots in hand to determine both the president and the deputies who will be represented in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, fulfilling their civic duty to the tune of 87.6 percent. In Izmir yesterday, we saw large crowds queuing up from the early hours of the morning. We saw that disabled and elderly people in particular were making an effort to vote, that many of them were excited, some making their way to the schools in wheelchairs and some on crutches. ... It also made us all happy that there were no major negative incidents.”

Engin Uğur Ağır