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5/15/2023 Turkey (International Christian Concern)Neither Turkish presidential candidate received the majority needed to secure victory in yesterday’s election. Incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won 49.42% of the vote, while his main challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu won 44.88%.

A third-party candidate, Sinan Ogan, finished with 5.17%, preventing both candidates from securing the required 50% or more votes. Erdoğan’s AK Party notably won a majority in the Parliamentary elections, demonstrating a stronger-than-expected result.  

The results mean that a run-off election will happen on May 28, with Erdoğan currently favored to win. 

Erdoğan has maintained power in Turkey for more than two decades while increasing his authoritarian rule during this period and growing the country into a major regional economic and military power in Eurasia. Erdoğan’s government has come under increased criticism and political pressure in recent years due to a serious national economic and currency crisis, the handling of recent earthquake disasters, protracted refugee issues, and suppression of freedoms, including journalists, political parties, and religious and ethnic minorities. 

If Erdoğan wins the run-off, Christians can expect a continued hostile environment. Christian persecution in Turkey takes various forms, including the lack of governmental permission for Christian education for national church leaders, a history of deporting foreign Christians, isolation, lack of protection for diminishing numbers of Greek and Syriac churches, and persecution of ethnic Turkish Christians in an identity culture that perpetuates the idea that to be Turkish is to be Muslim. 

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