Erdogan Is Endorsed by Sinan Ogan
The candidate who came in third in Turkey’s presidential election last week announced on Monday that he was endorsing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the runoff vote on Sunday, granting Mr. Erdogan an additional boost against his remaining challenger.
Mr. Erdogan, the dominant figure in Turkish politics for 20 years, appears to have an edge in the runoff, whose victor will shape Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies for the next five years. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Erdogan aimed to link himself in voters’ minds with the image of a strong Turkey, with expanding military might and geopolitical clout.
Although most polls in the run-up to the initial vote on May 14 showed Mr. Erdogan trailing his main challenger, the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the president overcame voter anger at high inflation and frustration with the government’s initially slow response to catastrophic earthquakes in February to win 49.5 percent of the vote.
Mr. Kilicdaroglu, the joint candidate of a coalition of six opposition parties that came together to try to unseat Mr. Erdogan, won 44.9 percent.
In his campaign, Mr. Kilicdaroglu vowed to undo Mr. Erdogan’s legacy, which he said had damaged the economy and pushed the country away from democracy and toward one-man rule.
The third-place candidate, Sinan Ogan, is a far-right nationalist who defied expectations to win 5.2 percent of the vote, preventing either of the top contenders from winning the simple majority that would have granted instant victory.
In an interview with The New York Times after the first-round results were released last week, Mr. Ogan said he was negotiating with figures on both sides of the political divide to decide whom to endorse for the runoff.
He said he was seeking to ensure that the winning candidate adopts nationalist causes, including a scheduled plan to deport millions of refugees and a refusal to cooperate with pro-Kurdish and hard-line Islamist parties that he considers connected to terrorism.
In exchange for his endorsement, Mr. Ogan said he wanted a senior post in the new administration, such as vice president.
But it remains unclear whether his support will deliver many voters. Mr. Ogan has no significant party apparatus to mobilize his backers, and in the eight days since the election, his hard-right electoral alliance has broken apart.
Political analysts said that many voters who chose him in the first round probably did so to protest the top two contenders and so might not vote at all in the runoff.
Mr. Erdogan met with Mr. Ogan on Friday, but neither man released details of what was discussed. That same day, Mr. Erdogan said in an interview with CNN that he did not want to bargain with Mr. Ogan.
“I am not a person who likes to negotiate in such a manner,” Mr. Erdogan said. “It will be the people who are the kingmakers.”
In announcing his endorsement of Mr. Erdogan at a news conference on Monday, Mr. Ogan said nothing of any agreement the men had reached but characterized his impact on the election as a victory for far-right causes.
“We uplifted Turkish nationalists to a key role,” he said, listing the major issues facing Turkey as refugees, earthquake preparedness, the economy and the fight against terrorism.
“We recommend that those who belittle our voters watch our work more closely,” he said, apparently referring to a change in rhetoric by the opposition after far-right figures such as himself did better in the election than expected.