Erdogan Receives Endorsement from Former Rival, Gains Momentum in Presidential Runoff
In a surprising turn of events, Sinan Ogan, the candidate who secured the third position in Turkey's recent presidential election, announced his endorsement of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. This endorsement provides a significant boost to Erdogan's campaign as he prepares for the decisive runoff vote scheduled for Sunday.
Erdogan, a dominant figure in Turkish politics for the past two decades, appears to have an advantage in the upcoming runoff election, which will shape Turkey's domestic and foreign policies over the next five years. Throughout his campaign, Erdogan focused on portraying himself as the leader of a strong Turkey, emphasizing the country's expanding military capabilities and geopolitical influence.
Despite trailing his main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, in pre-election polls, Erdogan managed to secure 49.5 percent of the vote in the initial round. Kilicdaroglu, the joint candidate of a coalition of six opposition parties, received 44.9 percent. Sinan Ogan's unexpected 5.2 percent share of the vote prevented either of the top contenders from achieving the majority required for an instant victory.
Ogan, a far-right nationalist candidate, announced that he was negotiating with figures from both sides of the political spectrum to determine which candidate to endorse in the runoff. He aimed to ensure that the winning candidate would champion nationalist causes, including the deportation of millions of refugees and a refusal to cooperate with pro-Kurdish and hard-line Islamist parties associated with terrorism. In exchange for his endorsement, Ogan expressed his desire for a senior position in the new administration, such as vice president.
However, it remains uncertain whether Ogan's support will significantly impact the outcome of the election. Without a substantial party apparatus to mobilize his followers, and with his hard-right electoral alliance breaking apart, Ogan may struggle to sway many voters. Analysts believe that a considerable portion of those who voted for Ogan in the first round did so as a protest against the top two contenders and might opt not to vote at all in the runoff.
Although Erdogan met with Ogan last Friday, no details of their discussion were released. Erdogan emphasized in a subsequent interview with CNN that he did not want to engage in negotiations of this nature, stating, "It will be the people who are the kingmakers."
During a news conference on Monday, Ogan announced his endorsement of Erdogan without revealing any specific agreements between the two candidates. He claimed that his impact on the election was a victory for far-right causes and emphasized the key issues facing Turkey, including refugees, earthquake preparedness, the economy, and the fight against terrorism. Ogan also issued a veiled warning to those who underestimated his supporters, suggesting that the opposition should pay closer attention to their concerns.
As the runoff election approaches, the focus now shifts to Erdogan's bid for reelection, with the support of a former rival and the opportunity to consolidate his position as Turkey's leader for the next five years.