Turkey's third-place finisher endorses Erdogan

AFP , Monday 22 May 2023

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday secured the endorsement of an ultra-nationalist whose third-place finish helped force Turkey's first election runoff.

Recep Erdogan shakes hands with Sinan Ogan
In this photo released by Turkish Presidency, Turkish President and People s Alliance s presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Sinan Ogan, former presidential candidate from ATA alliance, in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, May 19, 2023. AP


Sinan Ogan's 5.2 percent of the vote in the May 14 general election helped deprived Erdogan of an outright victory for the first time in his 20-year rule.

He met the Turkish leader on Friday and held separate negotiations with allies of opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

"We will support the People's Alliance candidate, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the second round of the elections on May 28," he told reporters in nationally televised remarks.

Ogan portrays himself as an ardent supporter of a brand of Turkish nationalism espoused by the post-Ottoman republic's creator Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

He has demanded the immediate expulsion of millions of migrants and sought a firm stance against "terrorists" -- a code word for Kurdish groups fighting for broader autonomy in Turkey's southeast.

The 54-year-old also tried to stop the opposition from discussing constitutional changes that could dilute language stressing the importance of Turkishness at the expense of other ethnicities.

Analysts question how much weight Ogan's endorsement carries with his voters.

His tiny party has only been around for a few months and most of his support appears to be disaffected with both Erdogan and his 74-year-old rival.

But it undermines Kilicdaroglu's urgent efforts to expand his appeal among more nationalist voters in the runup to the second round.

Kilicdaroglu struck a decidedly more nationalist tone in his first post-election appearance last week.

The former civil servant pledged to send "all the refugees home" when he comes to power and accused Erdogan of failing to "protect the borders and honour of our country".

Erdogan had signalled that he did not intend to make any concession to Ogan to secure his support.

The Turkish leader would be able to extend his rule for one last time until 2028 by picking up just a sliver of Ogan's voters.

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