Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed his victory in the presidential elections as a triumph of democracy.
Speaking before hundreds of thousands of people in Ankara last night, Erdogan emphasised unity, declaring that the true winners of Sunday’s run-off polls were 85 million Turkish citizens.
He said: “According to the unofficial results of the election, our nation has entrusted us with the presidency for another 5 years. I would like to express my gratitude to each and every member of my nation who once again deemed us worthy of the responsibility of governing the country.
“But we are not the only winners. Turkey is the winner. The winner is our nation with all its segments. Our democracy is the winner. As you remember, we always said ‘no one will lose in our country when we win.’ Similarly, we said: ‘when we win, the only losers will be the owners of dirty scenarios about our country and their apparatuses, terrorist organisations and loan sharks.
“Let me reiterate the same promise here right now. No one has lost today. All 85 million have won. As required by the responsibility entrusted to us by our nation, we are not offended, resentful or angry with anyone. Now it is time to leave aside all the disputes and quarrels about the election period, and to unite around our national goals and national dreams.”
According to unofficial results, Erdogan won the presidential race with 52.14 percent of the votes, while his secular opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu got 47.86 percent.
Healing the wounds of the February 6 earthquakes and rebuilding the destroyed cities will continue to be the government’s top priority, Erdogan said.
He said the Turkish nation has power and strength and will earn its rightful place in the global order.
He also reminded people that the following day, May 29, coincides with the anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.
“The conquest of Istanbul, which we will commemorate tomorrow on its 570th anniversary, marked the beginning of a new era while bringing an end to an old era,” Erdogan said. “Hopefully, just like this pivotal moment in history, the Century of Türkiye that we see these elections as the gateway to will also leave its mark.”
Erdogan also criticised the Western media for their “malicious propaganda” against his reelection bid.
“Western media has lost,” he said, adding that they published covers to “destroy” him.
On the voluntary return of Syrian refugees, Erdogan said: “So far, we have facilitated the voluntary return of nearly 600,000 people to safe areas on Syrian territory. Through a new resettlement project we are carrying out with Qatar, we will ensure the return of 1 million more people in a few years.”
More than 3.7 million Syrians currently reside in Türkiye.
Meanwhile, Erdogan supporters in Ankara were ecstatic.
Hasan Ata, a student, said: “We are very happy that our leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan won. As our country goes through this difficult period, no matter what, we are people who think of our homeland and nation first. Therefore, I am happy to say that I am a Turk, and our leader is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
Bilal Hacioglu, a student, said: “In a word, Turkey is always Erdogan. We have proven this today. We will always win, even if he does not resign in 2028.”
Alparslan Akbas, also a student, said: “This nation did not vote for Kemal, America’s dog, nor did it sell the country to potatoes and onions. Come on. It’s always Erdogan.”
Muhammet Emin Ozberk, an Erdogan supporter, said: “Emotions are indescribable. We love him wholeheartedly. This is just the beginning, we will go all the way to the Vienna gate. I am calling out to the world from here, we are ready to die for Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Let the whole world know this. As long as we are, we will not feed Recep Tayyip Erdogan to jackals.”
In his first comments after it became clear that Erdogan would continue as president, Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that he would continue what he termed a “struggle for democracy.”
“All the means of the state were mobilised for one political party and laid at the feet of one man,” the CHP leader said. “I would like to thank the heads of the Nation Alliance, their organisations, our voters, and the citizens who protected the ballot boxes and fought against these immoral and unlawful pressures.”
Despite the loss, Kilicdaroglu is yet to resign, although calls for him to do so will now likely increase.