MOSCOW, May 15. /TASS/. Turkey’s incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains in the driver's seat to beat opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the presidential election runoff, Boris Dolgov, a leading researcher at the Institute of Asian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told TASS on Monday.
Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Turkey on Sunday. According to the state TV channel TRT, Erdogan collected 49.35% of the vote after all ballot boxes were opened, while Kilicdaroglu, the opposition’s nomination, 45%. The analyst called this result a major "victory for the opposition," but expressed confidence that this would not significantly affect Erdogan's chances.
"I believe that Erdogan has enough chances to win in the second round. He is a charismatic personality and a politician who has made great strides in foreign policy: in promoting Turkish interests, the policy of neo-Ottomanism, and the positioning of Turkey as a leader of the Muslim world. We can say that Turkey’s rise to the position of a global player is Erdogan's unconditional achievement," Dolgov said.
The analyst suspects that the results of the first round were affected by the earthquake in Turkey in February, which killed over 50,000 people. The incumbent authorities were blamed for many buildings’ substandard quality and failure to meet the safety requirements in such seismically active zones.
"This had an impact, of course," Dolgov continued. "But in my opinion, Erdogan still has a significant chance of winning the second round."
The analyst stressed that in case of the opposition’s hypothetical win one should expect a shift in Ankara's general political course in the pro-Western direction, including Turkey joining the anti-Russian sanctions.
"Although I don't think there will be any radical changes in relations with Russia initially following the opposition's rise to power, a decision to join the anti-Russian sanctions is quite possible," he added.
Dolgov did not rule out that the United States may attempt to interfere in the runoff through unofficial channels. "There will be such attempts. We should be prepared for that. I think that both the Turkish public and the political establishment are aware of this and may be taking some measures to counter this influence," he concluded.