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Turkey election: Presidential candidate in third place supports Erdogan


Yves Herman/Reuters

Sinan Ogan said he would support Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the runoff.

Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s third-placed presidential candidate, Sinan Ogan, endorsed front-runner Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in a boost ahead of the planned vote.

Ogan, who received 5.17% of the vote in the first round of the May 14 presidential election, told a news conference in Ankara that he will support incumbent Erdogan, rather than his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu, in the planned presidential race per May 28.

Erdogan received 49.52% of the vote in the first round, giving him a five-point lead over Kilicdaroglu.

“I announce that we will support the candidate of People’s Alliance President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and invite the voters who voted for us in the first round to vote for Mr. Erdogan,” Ogan said.

The decision was made “after consideration and because we believe it is the right thing for our country and our people,” he added.

Cagla Gurdogan/Reuters

The vote share third-placed Ogan won in the first round may well make him kingmaker in the runoff.

Ogan had conditioned his approval of both candidates on a tougher policy toward refugees and some Kurdish groups he perceives as terrorists.

“The National Alliance has failed to convince us,” he said, referring to the main opposition group in Turkey, led by Kilicdaroglu.

Ogan argued that Turkey was at a “critical juncture” and set out four priorities that he said needed to be addressed immediately.

First is the issue of refugees and migrants in Turkey, he said. Second, the “urgent national security threat” following the recent earthquakes. Third, the economic problems “caused by domestic and foreign dynamics that have caused deep problems in the public.” And fourth, the fight against terrorism in Turkey, as he said, had to be “corrected on all fronts, including economically.”

“Everyone has the right to be in politics and it must be guaranteed, but the political extensions of terrorist groups must be purged from Turkish politics,” Ogan added.

The Ancestral Alliance – the right-wing electoral alliance that nominated Ogan as its presidential candidate – has announced that each party in the alliance will make a decision independently.

The main party in the alliance, the Victory Party, is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday.

Responding to reports that Ogan had supported Erdoğan, Kilicdaroglu said in a tweet on Monday that “it is clear who is siding with those who are selling out this beautiful country.”

“We are coming to save this country from terrorism and migrants. This is a referendum. Let’s not allow anyone to fool anyone anymore. I invite all the young people and the 8 million citizens who did not vote to come to the polls,” Kilicdaroglu wrote.

Before the first round of elections, Ogan was a fringe, ultra-nationalist politician who was virtually unknown outside Turkey. But the votes he won could now make him a kingmaker.

In an interview with CNN last week, Ogan claimed: “Our electorate is very attached to us, of course, where we need it, they will come with us.”

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