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US braces for another Erdogan era in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the favorite to win Turkey’s hotly contested runoff election that will have implications for its relationship with Washington. 
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate.

WASHINGTON — Turkish voters will return to the polls later this month in a heated runoff election that will be watched closely by the United States.

The Biden administration is bracing for another five years with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power after Turkey’s longest-serving leader finished with a more than four-point lead in the May 14 elections. Because neither Erdogan nor his main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, won a simple majority, the country will hold a second-round vote to determine Turkey’s next president on May 28. 

The initial vote has left the Turkish opposition in “a state of shock and disarray,” Amberin Zaman reports. In the lead-up to the election, polls projected a slight edge for Kilicdaroglu, a former civil servant who promised to restore US relations strained by Erdogan's coziness with Russia and democratic backsliding. (Al-Monitor's own poll had the two candidates in a dead heat).  

The surprise results have prompted some serious soul-searching and scapegoating within the opposition. Kilicdaroglu must "overcome demotivation and fatigue among his supporters and counter Erdogan, who will appeal to the electorate to vote for consistency and stability,” writes Nazlan Ertan.

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