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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fell short of achieving an outright victory in Sunday’s election, setting the stage for an unprecedented presidential runoff in the country.

Erdoğan failed to clear the 50% threshold required for a decisive win, marking a significant challenge to his 20-year rule.

Turkey, a vital player geopolitically as NATO’s second-largest military, has emerged as a crucial link between the East and West.

The runoff election, scheduled in two weeks, provides an opportunity for both Erdoğan and his challenger to sway voters in their favor.

This election carries immense significance for the future of Turkish democracy and its relationship with NATO.

During his two-decade tenure, Erdoğan, who was initially elected as a reformer, has increasingly displayed authoritarian tendencies, including the imprisonment of political opponents and journalists.

Many Turkish citizens view this election as their last chance to bring about democratic change through the ballot box and steer their country back on a democratic path.

Turkey’s strategic position in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, sandwiched between Europe and the Middle East, underscores its geopolitical importance.

Despite being a NATO member, Turkey’s relationship with the alliance has been complex, with President Erdoğan occasionally criticizing President Biden and refusing to join Western sanctions against Russia.

Erdoğan’s challenger has promised a more pro-Western approach if elected.

The focal point of this election has been the economy, as inflation has skyrocketed in Turkey in recent years, adversely affecting the middle class and eroding Erdoğan’s popularity.

Neither Erdoğan nor his challenger secured the crucial 50% mark in the initial round of voting, leading to the upcoming runoff.

The elimination of a third-party candidate who garnered approximately 5% of the vote could potentially influence the final outcome, as his supporters may align with one of the remaining candidates.

The opposition had been leading in the polls leading up to the election and had hoped for a victory over Erdoğan in the first round.

However, their aspirations were dashed as Erdoğan delivered a triumphant speech to his supporters in Ankara, the Turkish capital, in the early hours following the election.

With two weeks remaining until the final round of voting, the clock is ticking for both candidates to rally support and secure victory in this critical electoral showdown.

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