After two decades in power, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will remain at the helm of the Turkish Republic for the next five years. The holding of the second round of the presidential election last Sunday gave him a clear victory with 52.1% of the vote against 47.9% of the opposition candidate, the center-left Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, who led a broad coalition of parties. The result portrays a society strongly opposed between Erdogan's followers and his bid to take Turkey down an illiberal path with authoritarian branches and those supporters of the defense of state institutions, secularism and a greater rapprochement with Europe, which are the foundations on which modern Turkey was born a century ago.
Far from trying to moderate his speech after the first round on May 14, where the advantage over the opposition was four points, Erdogan has redoubled his discourse of accusations to the opposition of collusion with Kurdish terrorism and of being "pro-LGTBI" – he promised to outlaw organizations defending their rights. Nor are the threatening statements of Devlet Bahçeli, Erdogan's far-right ally, very reassuring, who warned that "many things will change."
The result is an important boost to Erdogan's ultranationalist policy, which has managed to focus on the reception of refugees and immigrants an important part of the electoral debate. In terms of domestic policy, it underpins the system of network of interests that the re-elected president has used to consolidate his project of strangulation of freedoms and that includes a wide spectrum of interests (from arms companies to charitable foundations, through large construction companies). That power structure would have seen its status jeopardized in the event of an opposition victory.
Turkey will continue to be a complex and sometimes unpredictable player in the field of international relations, both in terms of the European Union and the way it exercises its status as a NATO Member State. Its progressive economic rapprochement with Russia, the tough negotiations to definitively accept the accession of Sweden and Finland to the Atlantic Alliance, the periodic confrontations with the EU on issues such as the management of irregular migrant flows or unilateral actions abroad wrapped in nostalgic Ottoman imperial rhetoric are unlikely to undergo drastic changes. What is worrying is that Erdogan's new mandate will allow him to continue his systematic strategy of dismantling the secular state, weakening and controlling state institutions by concentrating more and more power in his hands and a progressive undermining of fundamental rights of Turks, including information and freedom of expression.