Erdogan Says He'll Honor Election Result

Rival candidates address democracy in Turkey in final pitches
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 13, 2023 1:00 PM CDT
Candidates Address Democracy in Turkey
Supporters of presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu wave Turkish flags during an election campaign rally in Ankara on Friday.   (AP Photo/Ali Unal)

Turkish politicians held their final rallies in the last hours of campaigning before Saturday, the eve of pivotal presidential and parliamentary elections that could significantly shape the NATO member's future, before a so-called propaganda ban went into effect. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is facing the toughest challenge in his two decades of power, spoke at three neighborhood rallies in Istanbul. His main challenger is Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the pro-secular, center-left Republican People's Party, who is the joint candidate of six opposition parties. He held his final rally in the capital, Ankara, on Friday in the pouring rain. On Saturday, he visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and of the party.

On Friday, Erdogan dismissed speculation that he wouldn't cede power if he lost, calling the question "very ridiculous." In an interview with more than a dozen broadcasters, Erdogan said he came to power through democracy and would act in line with the democratic process. "If our nation decides to make such a different decision, we will do exactly what's required by democracy, and there's nothing else to do," he said. Erdogan said Saturday that he viewed the elections as a "celebration of democracy for our country’s future." He showcased his government's defense and infrastructure investments and aired videos trying to undermine his opponent as incapable of leading Turkey, while claiming he was colluding with terror groups. He also argued the opposition was pro-LGBTQ and therefore anti-family in a now regular targeting of LGBTQ people in Turkey.

The opposition campaign was continued by Istanbul's popular mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, who held final rallies in the city to call on people to vote for Kilicdaroglu. As in previous elections, mainstream media coverage remained unequal, with Erdogan's rallies getting constant live airtime. On Friday, Kilicdaroglu asked tens of thousands gathered for his final speech to vote on Sunday to "change Turkey’s destiny." He said he was ready to bring democracy to Turkey, a major criticism of Erdogan, who has cracked down on dissent in recent years and concentrated most powers of the state in his hands. "We will show the whole world that our beautiful country is one that can bring democracy through democratic means,” he said. Opinion polls have showed Kilicdaroglu with a slight lead over Erdogan. Results will be released after 2pm ET Sunday, per CNN.

(More Turkey stories.)

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