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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves as he addresses his supporters in Ankara following his victory in the second round of the presidential election.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Erdogan wins reelection — what's next for Turkey?

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Sunday's presidential runoff election, beating opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu by a not-too-shabby 4 percentage points in a deeply polarized country. It’s a big victory for Erdogan, who ahead of the first round many thought would finally lose — yet eventually defying the polls to advance, win another term, and enter his third decade in power.

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Jess Frampton

Turkey’s sultan Erdogan is not going anywhere

Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan is … strong.

Despite most opinion polls predicting a win for main-opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a soft-spoken technocrat who leads the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), President Erdogan received 49.5% of the votes in Sunday’s presidential election compared to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9%. Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its People’s Alliance coalition, meanwhile, defied expectations to retain majority control of Turkey’s 600-member parliament.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally ahead of the May 14 election in Istanbul.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Is the Erdoğan era in Turkey coming to an end?

After dominating Turkish politics for two decades, opinion polls suggest that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could face his toughest elections ever on May 14. The charismatic, tough-talking politician became prime minister in 2003 after his moderate Islamist party swept to power, breaking with a long tradition of secular government. In 2014, he won the country’s first-ever direct presidential election and then expanded the powers of the office with a new constitution passed in 2017.

A deepening economic crisis – with inflation just under 50% – and a bungled initial response to devastating earthquakes in February have created an opening for an opposition candidate to prevent Erdoğan’s rule from extending into a third decade. That could have implications far beyond Turkey. Though a NATO member, Turkey under Erdoğan has pursued closer relations with Russia and various other policies that have created tensions with its Western partners.

We spoke with Turkey experts at Eurasia Group to get a better sense of what to expect from the upcoming elections.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony to mark the delivery of nuclear fuel to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which is being built by Russia, in Ankara.

Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via REUTERS

Turkey's looming crisis

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the man who has dominated Turkey’s politics for a generation, was once mayor of Istanbul, and that job helped vault him to national leadership. “Whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey,” he once said.

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Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party, greets his supporters accompanied by his wife during a rally in Istanbul.

REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The man who could beat Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has dominated Turkey’s politics for the past 20 years, first as prime minister and now as president. By drawing support from long-ignored socially conservative voters in the country’s rural Anatolian heartland, he broke the stranglehold on his country’s politics long held by a business elite in Turkey’s three largest cities who governed with frequent interference from the military.

But in the process, Erdoğan has also demonstrated a willingness to undermine his country’s democracy by marginalizing, and sometimes jailing, critics and independent-minded journalists and by remaking Turkey’s political and court system to protect his power. A failed coup attempt in July 2016 only heightened Erdoğan’s drive for tighter control of Turkey’s politics.

Now, after more than two decades of political dominance, a looming presidential election leaves Erdoğan facing a serious challenge. Runaway inflation, a currency crisis, and scandals arising from devastating earthquakes in February that killed tens of thousands and left millions homeless have combined to put Erdoğan in a tight spot headed into the first round of voting on May 14.

Perhaps most importantly, the country’s opposition appears much more unified than in the past.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at the coordination center of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority in Ankara.

Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

How Turkey’s Erdoğan responds to quake could impact his reelection chances

Turkey and Syria are reeling in the wake of Monday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that claimed the lives of at least 5,000 people and left thousands more injured. It's the worst tremor to hit the region since 1999, when some 17,500 perished in the northeastern Turkish city of İzmit near Istanbul.

While offers of international aid pour in and rescue teams work around the clock to find survivors, one person wants to be seen as being firmly in command and on top of the recovery effort in Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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China overhauls Hong Kong elections; Brazil & Turkey under pressure
China Overhauls Hong Kong Elections | Brazil & Turkey Under Pressure | World In :60 | GZERO Media

China overhauls Hong Kong elections; Brazil & Turkey under pressure

Ian Bremmer discusses Hong Kong's election changes, Bolsonaro's latest cabinet reshuffle, and Turkey's economic problems on World In 60 Seconds.

China has overhauled elections in Hong Kong. Now what?

Well, now nobody that would be in the democratic opposition would really want to run for election in Hong Kong because it's just a titular body that serves mainland China. There is no more one state, two systems policy in Hong Kong. The UK, the United States are angry about it. We've put some sanctions on individual leaders, but that's about it. And China increasingly integrates the small Hong Kong economy into the mainland, and it's considered a domestic sovereign issue. Sorry, it kind of sucks if you're from Hong Kong, and there's not much work we can or are going to do about it.

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