Sinan Ogan endorses Erdogan in Turkey election run-off

Sinan Ogan, who came third in last week’s Turkish presidential election, has thrown his support behind incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the country’s decisive run-off.

Ogan endorsed Erdogan at a news conference in Ankara on Monday and said his campaign made Turkish nationalists “key players” in politics.Calling on his supporters to back Erdogan in the runoff, he said: “We had all kinds of consultations before making the last decision. We have taken this decision because we believe that our decision is the right decision for our country and nation.”

The announcement by the nationalist candidate came days before Turks head to polls on May 28 to decide whether Erdogan or main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu will lead the country for the next five years.

In the first round of voting on May 14, Erdogan received 49.52 percent, falling just short of the majority needed to secure an outright victory.

Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of a six-party opposition alliance, got 44.88 percent. Ogan, backed by the ATA Alliance, finished third with 5.17 percent support, prompting some analysts to call him a potential “kingmaker” for the runoff.

Ogan, 55, a former academic, was the candidate of an alliance of right-wing parties led by the Victory Party, which is known for its anti-immigrant stance in Turkey, the world’s biggest host of refugees.

Kilicdaroglu has pledged to roll back much of Erdogan’s sweeping changes to Turkish domestic, foreign and economic policies, including reversing an unorthodox economic programme to address a cost-of-living crisis.

Erdogan has said a vote for him in the runoff is a vote for stability.
Ogan’s endorsement of Erdogan came days after he held a surprise meeting with the Turkish leader in Istanbul on Friday. No statement was made following the one-hour meeting.

Ogan had attracted votes from people who disapproved of Erdogan’s policies but didn’t want to support Kilicdaroglu, who leads Turkey’s centre-left, pro-secular main opposition party.

Analysts say that despite Ogan’s endorsement, it is not certain that all of his supporters would go to Erdogan. Some were likely to shift to Kilicdaroglu while others might chose not to vote in the runoff race.Erdogan’s ruling AK party and its nationalist and Islamist allies also retained a majority in the 600-seat parliament. That increases Erdogan’s chances of re-election because voters are likely to vote for him to avoid a splintered government, analysts say.

Ogan listed the conditions to earn his endorsement while speaking to Turkish media last week. Among them were taking a tough stance against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and a timeline for the expulsion of millions of refugees, including nearly 3.7 million Syrians.

Erdogan, meanwhile, told CNN International in an interview that he would not bend to such demands.

“I’m not a person who likes to negotiate in such a manner. It will be the people who are the kingmakers,” he said.

In an apparent attempt to sway nationalists voters, Kilicdaroglu hardened his tone last week, vowing to send back refugees and ruling out any peace negotiations with the PKK if he were elected.

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