Re-election of Erdoğan in Türkiye: Triumph or Trigger for More Division?

Re-election of Erdoğan in Türkiye: Triumph or Trigger for More Division?
Photo by Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanlığı via


Bilge Ece Zeyrek

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

The second round of the presidential election held on Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Türkiye resulted in the re-election of the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who secured 52% of the votes, ensuring another five-year term in office. [1] However, this victory seems to have deeply divided the country, considering the narrow margin between the two candidates.

In his victory speech to an enthusiastic crowd in front of the Presidential Palace in Ankara, President Erdoğan signaled his intention to unite the nation and said that the whole nation of 85 million has won. [2] However, these calls for unity seemed hollow, as he continued to mock his main rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, by saying "bye bye Kemal" during his speech. 

The main opposition party CHP’s leader Kılıçdaroğlu, in his post-election speech, accused the Erdoğan administration of using state resources to its advantage and denounced the election as "the most unfair" in recent years. [3] While the opposition leader's resignation from the presidency of the party came onto the agenda following the loss of the election, Kılıçdaroğlu's statement that “the struggle would continue” was a sign that this development would not occur. Whether Kılıçdaroğlu will remain in the leadership will be determined at the Ordinary General Assembly of his party in July 2023. 

The fairness of the general election and the first round of the presidential election, which took place on May 14, 2023, was examined by international observers, who reported that the prejudice of the Turkish media and restrictions on freedom of expression gave President Erdogan an unfair advantage. [4] The alleged use of state machinery in favor of the incumbent has raised significant concerns about the state of democracy in Türkiye. 

Faced with these difficulties, Kılıçdaroğlu managed to gain support from various opposition groups with different ideologies but was not able to break Erdoğan's stronghold on Turkish politics in the election. For the first time since the his election as the president by popular vote in 2014, Erdoğan was forced into the second round, but received more than two million votes than Kılıçdaroğlu. [5]

Considering human rights, Erdoğan's victory may result in increased repression of the opposition, tighter restrictions on the freedom of expression, and a further consolidation of authoritarian rule, as seen in his previous terms. The way Erdoğan addresses these potential issues– repression, restricted freedom of expression, and intensified authoritarian rule – in his new term will significantly impact Türkiye's human rights situation and international reputation. Policies in the near future will also play a crucial role in determining whether Turkish society moves towards unity or remains divided along polarized lines.

Sources and further readings:

[1] Anadolu Ajansı  <> accessed 31 May 2023. 

[2] Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye, ‘Every single one of our 85 million citizens has won today’ (29 May 2023) <> accessed 31 May 2023.

[3] Bianet, ‘Erdoğan secures re-election in closely contested runoff’ (28 May 2023) <> accessed 31 May 2023.

[4] Bilge Ece Zeyrek, ‘International Election Observers Assert Turkish Elections Competitive Yet Limited’ (GHRTV, 17 May 2013) <> accessed 31 May 2023.

[5] Anadolu Ajansı (n 1).