The indestructible Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confirmed on Sunday for five more years at the head of Turkey, called on his country for “solidarity and unity” in the face of the challenges that await it.
Perched on a bus outside his home in Istanbul, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, the 69-year-old president, including 20 powers, had claimed victory in the early evening in front of a sea red flags waved by an enthusiastic crowd.
“Our nation has entrusted us with the responsibility of governing the country for the next five years,” he said after an election that forced him to a second round for the first time.
< p>Back in Ankara in the middle of the night, celebrated in rock star fashion by a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters who had been waiting for him for hours in front of the presidential palace, the head of state did not fail to booing his unfortunate opponent, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu.
Before deeming that it “is time to put aside the disputes of the electoral campaign and achieve unity and solidarity around the dreams of our nation”.
“Turkey has won!”, he launched between two giant portraits projected on the monumental facade: his own and that of his most illustrious predecessor, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic which celebrates this year his hundred years.
According to the results covering more than 99.85% of the ballots, the Head of State won 52.16% of the vote against 47.84% for the Social Democratic candidate Kemal Kiliçdaroglu who, at 74, lost the bet of the “peaceful democracy” he promised.
The Turkish Electoral Commission (YSK) confirmed in the evening the victory of the leader of the state and will publish the final results at the beginning of the week.
In the evening, spontaneous rallies formed around the headquarters of his AKP party in Istanbul, whose streets resounded with the blast of horns and a considerable crowd gathered in front of the presidential palace in Ankara to wait for him.
Scenes of jubilation took place across the country as well as in several major European cities, including Berlin, where there is a large Turkish community.
“We are happy, God granted our wishes. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a very great leader, a very powerful leader. And he has made Turkey a lot of progress”, welcomed Soner Ceylan, 52, in Istanbul on Sunday evening.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had made no secret of his support for the president, quickly hailed a “logical result” as did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said he hoped to “strengthen his ties with Ankara”.
First among Western leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron also “congratulated” Mr Erdogan, followed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Union officials Ursula Von der Leyen and Charles Michel, among others.
President Erdogan's ill-fated rival spoke from the headquarters of his party, the CHP founded by Mustafa Kemal, to express his “real sadness at the difficulties facing the country”.
Nor the desire to change of part of the electorate, neither the severe inflation which is undermining Turkey, nor the restrictions on freedoms and the hyper-presidentialization of a power which has sent tens of thousands of opponents behind bars or into exile n weighed against the desire for security and stability.
Not even the consequences of the terrible earthquake in February (at least 50,000 dead and 3 million displaced) in eleven southern provinces of the country, which largely renewed the head of state.
“Erdogan played the nationalism card with great skill, the opposition failed to offer an alternative likely” to convince despite the poor economic situation of the country, said Galip Dalay, associate researcher Middle East Council on Global Affairs.
President Erdogan's party, the Islamo-conservative AKP, on which he built his accession to supreme power, lost seats in Parliament, but retains its majority with its allies.
Kemal Kiliçdaroglu cashes in on him one more defeat after promising the “return of spring”.
Considered by many, including within his opposition alliance, as lackluster and without charisma, Mr Kiliçadaroglu failed to know take advantage of the economic crisis to claim victory.
Weary-faced, slow-moving Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voted midday in his Istanbul neighborhood of Usküdar: a cheery crowd awaited him there, to whom bodyguards handed out toys as he slipped a few banknotes to children.
Almost simultaneously, all smiles despite the unfavorable forecasts, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu cast his ballot in Ankara, encouraging his fellow citizens to vote “to get rid of an authoritarian government”.
The Erdogan camp has repeatedly described the opposition led by Kiliçdaroglu as “terrorist” because of the support given to it by the leaders of the pro-Kurdish HDP party.
Those interviewed by AFP in the queues at polling stations testified to the polarization of the country after these weeks of campaigning.
Kemal Kiliçdaroglu was largely deprived of access to the major media and especially to the official television channels, which have reserved sixty times more airtime for his rival, according to the organization Reporters Without Borders.
Faced with his rival discreet Alevi, a branch of Islam considered heretical by the rigorous Sunnis, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has multiplied the meetings, relying on the transformations he has been able to bring to the country since his accession to power as Prime Minister in 2003.
His re-election comes ten years to the day after the start of the large “Gezi” protests that had spread across the country and were severely repressed.