(Update 1: Rewrites with Erdogan victory highlighted)
Istanbul, May 28 (EFE).- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won reelection in the runoff vote on Sunday, and his challenger social democrat Kemal Kilicdaroglu acknowledged defeat but promised to continue his fight within the opposition.
Erdogan claimed victory, saying that he had once again been given “the responsibility of governing the country” for another five-year term.
Erdogan received 52.1 percent of the votes and Kilicdaroglu garnered 47.9 percent, with 99.5 percent of the votes counted, although that result is still technically preliminary, according to electoral commission president Ahmet Yener.
Earlier on Sunday, government news agency Anadolu and independent ANKA news had given Erdogan 52 percent and Kilicdaroglu 48 percent, with 99 percent of the ballots counted.
Erdogan said that the win – combined with the win by his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the May 14 nationwide legislative elections – is a severe blow to Kilicdaroglu’s CHP party.
Saying that “For us, family is sacred,” the Islamist-oriented Erdogan in his victory remarks to supporters once again claimed that the CHP and other opposition parties have been “infiltrated by LGBTI” and thus support providing various rights to homosexuals, something that he and his supporters oppose.
He also promised to rebuild the homes destroyed in the deadly February earthquake within a year.
Meanwhile, Kilicdaroglu told supporters in a brief appearance at CHP party headquarters that “I’ve fought for your rights, I’ve fought so that you can live in prosperity and I’ll continue fighting.”
Kilicdaroglu had received 44.9 percent of the votes in the first election round and 48 percent in the runoff, according to Anadolu.
“I ask for your support in continuing the fight for democracy,” Kilicdaroglu said. “The most unfair elections in recent years have just been held,” he added, alluding to the difficult conditions facing the opposition in the recent election campaign.
All the public communications media and most of the private ones had broadcast Erdogan’s remarks at assorted rallies and public events, but they gave little air time to the opposition.
Thanking his supporters, in particular “women and young people,” Kilicdaroglu, 74, said that “Despite all the pressure, the will of the people to change the authoritarian regime (of Erdogan) has been evident. We’ll keep fighting. Our march continues.”
The support at the polls received by Kilicdaroglu is the best performance by the opposition since Erdogan came to power – first as prime minister in 2003 and later as president in the 2007 and 2011 elections – and the first time that an opposition candidate has forced a runoff since Turkey instituted direct suffrage in 2014.