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Turkey Elections: Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu court far-right endorsement ahead of runoff

Far-right candidate Sinan Ogan's endorsement remains particularly critical for President Erdogan's rival, with merely nine days to go until the presidential election runoff.
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and AK Party (AKP) wave flags at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey May 14, 2023.

ANKARA — Political traffic in Turkey heated up on Friday, as both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his top rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, courted the country’s far-right electoral alliance ahead of a critical runoff that will determine whether the incumbent president can extend his rule into a new term.

Sinan Ogan, the far-right Ata Alliance’s presidential candidate who won more than 5% of the vote in the first round of the presidential race on May 14, gathered with Erdogan in a surprise meeting Friday at the president’s office in Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace. The duo remained tight-lipped over the meeting, but images shared by the Turkish presidency showed both men shaking hands solemnly.

The meeting, which wasn’t announced in the president’s daily schedule, came only hours after Erdogan seemed to rule out potential negotiations with Ogan in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson. Erdogan told CNN he wouldn’t bend to Ogan’s wishes. “I’m not a person who likes to negotiate in such a manner,” CNN quoted him as saying. 

Government critics, meanwhile, slammed Erdogan’s choice of venue for the meeting, saying the presidential office was misused for election purposes.

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