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Turkey Election: Foreign allies prematurely rush to congratulate Erdogan

In a split from standard diplomatic practices, the Turkish President’s foreign allies openly voiced their support of Erdogan ahead of a critical runoff poll.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) poses with Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orbán after they met for discussions on Syria and migration on Nov. 7, 2019 in Budapest, Hungary.

ANKARA — Both new and traditional foreign allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rushed to congratulate him this week after he finished the first round of the Sunday’s fateful presidential race ahead of his top rival and his party emerged as the victor of the parliamentary vote.

Departing from the standard diplomatic practice of election impartiality, some leaders voiced their public support of Erdogan against his contender, main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The two will face each other in a runoff vote on May 28 as neither of them managed to cross the threshold to be elected in the first round.

Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region president, Nechirvan Barzani, UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim were among the leaders who reached out to Erdogan after the elections, the Turkish presidency’s communications office said, adding that the leaders conveyed their congratulations to Erdogan over his election success.

The most outspoken support came from Orban, with the Hungarian leader describing Erdogan’s lead in the first round of the presidential race as an overwhelming victory. “Good luck for the second round, President! A strong and stable #Turkey is good for Hungary, good for Europe and good for the world!,” he tweeted.

Hungary under Orban’s self-proclaimed “illiberal democracy” has often been likened to Turkey under Erdogan. 

Barzani also wished him success in the second round of the presidential election, according to a readout by the Kurdistan Regional Government. 

Abu Dhabi’s readout of the call, meanwhile, struck a more diplomatic tone. The crown prince congratulated Erdogan “on the success of the electoral process and expressed hope these elections will benefit and serve the greater good of the Turkish people,” it said. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates restored their frayed ties last year after years of locking horns. 

Erdogan is seeking another term under his executive presidency system, which  Kilicdaroglu slams as a “one-man rule” and pledges to undo. The incumbent president finished the first round nearly five percentage points ahead. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party emerged as the leader in the parliamentary election, which was also held on Sunday, and the alliance it leads secured a majority to control the parliament. 

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