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Turkey Elections: Far-right Sinan Ogan throws support behind Erdogan

It remains unclear how the far-right politician's endorsement will impact the outcome of the consequential presidential runoff as his electoral partners rejected to toe his line.
Sinan Ogan, Turkish academician and presidential candidate of the ATA (Ataturk) nationalist alliance speaks during an interview with AFP, in his office in Ankara, on May 16, 2023. Turkey's election officials confirmed that there would be a second round because the remaining uncounted votes would not swing the outcome. Erdogan secured 49.5 percent of the vote and Kilicdaroglu picked up 44.9 percent. Nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan -- a former member of a far-right party now allied with the government -- won

ANKARA — Turkey’s defeated far-right presidential candidate Sinan Ogan declared his support for incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Monday with only six days to go until the runoff in the country's presidential elections.

Speaking at a televised press conference, Ogan cited “stability” in making his decision, saying that Kilicdaroglu’s six-party opposition alliance had failed to secure a parliamentary majority. 

“It is important for the country’s stability that the majority of the parliament and the president are from the same alliance,” he said, calling on his supporters to vote for Erdogan in the runoff.

More than 5% of voters supported Ogan during the first round of the presidential polls, in which Erdogan finished with a nearly 5% lead ahead of Kilicdaroglu.

Yet it remains unclear how the far-right politician's announcement will impact the outcome of the consequential runoff as Ogan’s alliance seems to be already divided.

Speaking after Ogan’s announcement, Umit Ozdag, the leader of Victory Party — the dominant party within the Ogan’s electoral alliance — said Ogan’s endorsement failed to reflect his views. Ozdag added that Ogan’s statements were not binding for his party. Another tiny political party within the alliance also threw its support behind Kilicdaroglu over the weekend.

Ogan’s alliance is composed of five parties, including far-right leader Ozdag’s Victory Party. Ozdag, the architect of the alliance, grabbed the spotlight in the leadup to the May 14 elections with his anti-immigrant messages.

Speaking on Monday after a meeting with a high-level official from Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ozdag said there was a significant difference between his party and the AKP's position on the refugees. "They are favoring voluntary and safe return of refugees," he said before reiterating his party's push for the forceful return of some 4 million refugees in the country. 

Ogan's announcement came after he held talks with Erdogan and an opposition leader within Kilicdaroglu's alliance last week.

In a bid to secure the far-right alliance's support, Kilicdaroglu harshened his rhetoric against refugees over the week. 

In a video he released on Twitter Monday, Kilicdaroglu maintained his jingoistic tone against asylum seekers in the country. "Those who love their country should come to the ballot box before the fugitives who enter the country completely darken the lives of our girls," he said.

Following Ogan’s statement on Monday, Kilicdaroglu lambasted the far-right politician. “It is clear who is siding with this beautiful country and who is siding with those who sold out this beautiful country,” he said.

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