How Erdoğan’s Populism Won Again

Issue Date July 2023
Volume 34
Issue 3
Page Numbers 21–32
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Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won a third presidential term in May 2023 in a close race that constituted the opposition’s best chance ever to defeat the long-serving president at the polls. The election was neither free nor fair, but it was real. Erdoğan coupled sophisticated strategies with ethnoreligious themes to win the race against a backdrop of rampant inflation and disastrous relief efforts following the massive earthquakes that struck Turkey in early 2023. The opposition rallied behind a joint candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, but failed to capitalize on Erdoğan’s vulnerabilities. Their campaign remained weak and uncoordinated, giving little reason to long-time Erdogan supporters to defect.

About the Authors

Berk Esen

Berk Esen is associate professor of political science at Sabancı University.

View all work by Berk Esen

Sebnem Gumuscu

Sebnem Gumuscu is associate professor of political science at Middlebury College.

View all work by Sebnem Gumuscu

Image Credit: Cemal Yurttas/dia images via Getty Images