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Why Erdogan wins

By Daron Acemoglu

18 May 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Turkey’s president is likely to retain power, despite rampant corruption. That’s good news for other right-wing populists, but bad news for Turkey’s cratering economy, Daron Acemoglu writes in PS.

CAMBRIDGE – It is hard not to be disappointed about the outcome of the first round of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14. In a campaign defined by the aftermath of February’s huge earthquake, mounting economic problems, and deepening corruption, hopes were high that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian 20-year rule would end. Some polls suggested that the six-party opposition led by the center-left Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), would be able to win a majority or, at the very least, enter the second round with an advantage over Erdoğan.

In the event, Turkey is going to the second round of voting on May 28 with Erdoğan, who received 49.5% of the vote, in a commanding lead. Kılıçdaroğlu received less than 45% of the vote, and the remainder was captured by a far-right, anti-immigrant candidate, Sinan Oğan, who will announce which of the two remaining candidates he supports tomorrow (May 19). But it seems likely that a significant share of his supporters will back Erdoğan in the second round.

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