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Erdogan receives the support of the third-place candidate prior to the Turkish election runoff

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Monday marked the official endorsement of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by the third-place finisher in the Turkish presidential election for the May 28 runoff election.

Sinan Ogan, a 55-year-old nationalist presidential candidate, has emerged as a potential kingmaker after neither Erdogan nor his primary challenger, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, secured the required majority for a first-round victory on May 14th.
Ogan, a former academic sponsored by a far-right anti-immigrant party, received 5.17 percent of the vote on May 14 and, now that he is out of the race, may hold the key to victory in the runoff.

His endorsement of Erdogan came days after he unexpectedly met with the Turkish leader on Friday in Istanbul. Following the hour-long meeting, no statement was made.

People who disapproved of Erdogan’s policies but did not want to support Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main center-left, secular opposition party, supported Ogan.

According to analysts, it is not certain that all of Ogan’s adherents will vote for Erdogan despite his support. Some were likely to switch to Kilicdaroglu, while others were likely to abstain from voting in the runoff election. The anti-immigrant party that sponsored Ogan has not yet announced which of the two candidates it will support, adding to the uncertainty.

In the first round, Erdogan received 49.5% of the vote compared to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9%, just short of the majority required for an uncontested victory.

The governing AK party, along with its nationalist and Islamist allies, maintained a majority of the 600-seat parliament. Analysts say this improves Erdogan’s prospects of re-election because voters are likely to vote for him in order to prevent a splintered government.

Last week, in an interview with Turkish media, Ogan outlined the prerequisites for receiving his endorsement. Among them were adopting a tough posture against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and establishing a timeline for the expulsion of millions of refugees, including nearly 3.7 million Syrians.

Erdogan stated in an interview with CNN International that he would not yield to such demands.

“I am not a person who enjoys negotiating in this fashion. “The people will be the kingmakers,” he stated.

In an apparent effort to persuade nationalist voters, Kilicdaroglu hardened his tone last week, promising to return refugees and excluding any peace negotiations with the PKK if elected.

Info Sources-US News, The Times of Israel, Los Angeles Times

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