Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was declared the winner of the presidential election on Sunday, sending him to another five years in office.
According to initial results, Erdogan was re-elected by winning 52.14 percent of votes in the runoff, Turkish Supreme Election Council Chairman Ahmet Yener told reporters in the capital Ankara late Sunday.
His challenger, 74-year-old Kemal Kilicdaroglu, garnered 47.86 percent of the votes, Yener said, adding that 196,744 ballot boxes, or 99.43 percent of the total, have been opened.
"We have completed the second round of the presidential election with the favor of our nation," Erdogan told his cheering supporters from atop a bus in his home district in Istanbul, according to local media reports.
Failing to produce a winner in the first round on May 14 sent the country into its first-ever presidential runoff.
Erdogan, 69, who has never lost an election and has been in power since 2003, this time faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before.
Kilicdaroglu, backed by a bloc of opposition parties, has vowed to return Türkiye to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances.
Erdogan performed better than opinion polls predicted, garnering 49.52 percent of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu received 44.88 percent on May 14.
In the last two weeks, the two candidates focused on appealing to nationalist votes in their campaigns. They both pledged to tackle problems regarding refugee issues and vowed to end terrorism as the May 14 results showed an increase in support for nationalist parties.
Erdogan promised a new "Turkish century" if he is re-elected. He also stressed that his presidency was necessary for harmony among state institutions and stability in the country, as his alliance held the majority at the parliament.
Controversial economic policy
The president has, on many occasions before the elections, stressed that he would continue with his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to combat rampant inflation if he is re-elected.
Despite Türkiye's annual inflation rate hitting a 24-year high in October last year, after rising for 17 months, Erdogan insisted that low-interest rates are the right way to lead the country out of the current economic woes, such as sharp depreciation of the Turkish currency and a high cost of living.
These problems were further exacerbated by the devastating earthquakes in early February in southern Türkiye, which killed more than 50,000 people and left tens of thousands of people homeless.
Despite the soaring inflation and hardships for households, some experts believe that Türkiye's longer-term economic prospects are promising.
"Turkish companies are thriving. Despite inflation and exchange rate volatilities, the economy grew by 11.4 percent in 2021 and set another 5.6 percent growth in 2022," Bilal Bagis, an economist and scholar at Istanbul's Sabanci University, wrote in an article published last week in Sabah Daily.
"Türkiye has created a more resilient and self-reliant economy" under Erdogan's leadership, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency)