Photo credit: AP

Turkey’s Erdogan retains power, now faces challenges over the economy and earthquake recovery

By SUZAN FRASER and ZEYNEP BILGINSOY Associated

Photo credit: AP

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a mandate to rule until 2028, securing five more years as leader of a country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia that plays a key role in NATO. He must now confront skyrocketing inflation that has fueled a cost-of-living crisis and rebuild in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.

Erdogan secured more than 52% of the vote in Sunday’s presidential runoff, two weeks after he fell short of scoring an outright victory in the first round. His opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, had sought to reverse Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian leanings, promising to return to democratic norms, adopt more conventional economic policies and improve ties with the West. But in the end, voters chose the man they see as a strong, proven leader.

Erdogan thanked the nation for entrusting him with the presidency again in two speeches he delivered in Istanbul and Ankara.

”The only winner today is Turkey,” Erdogan said outside the presidential palace in Ankara, promising to work hard for Turkey’s second century, which he called the ”Turkish century.” The country marks its centennial this year.

Kilicdaroglu said the election was ”the most unjust ever,” with all state resources mobilized for Erdogan.

”We will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle until real democracy comes to our country,” he said in Ankara.

Supporters of Erdogan, a divisive populist and masterful orator, took to the streets to celebrate, waving Turkish or ruling party flags, honking car horns and chanting his name. Celebratory gunfire was heard in several Istanbul neighborhoods.

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