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The third-place finisher in Turkiye backs Erdogan

An ultra-nationalist who placed third in Turkiye’s first election has endorsed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. This helped to trigger a rerun for the race.

In the general election on May 14, Sinan Ogan received 5.2% of the vote, denying Erdogan an outright victory for the first time in his 20-year reign.

On Friday, he met with the Turkish president and had separate talks with Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s associates.

In statements that were broadcast nationwide, he said, “We will support the People’s Alliance candidate, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the second round of the elections on May 28.”

“I invite supporters of our first-round campaign to back Mr. Erdogan in the second round.”

Ogan presents himself as a fervent advocate of the brand of Turkish nationalism that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk promoted when he founded the post-Ottoman republic.

Millions of migrants must be immediately expulsed, and he has called for a tough action against “terrorists”—a term used to describe Kurdish parties fighting for more autonomy in Turkiye’s southeast.

The 54-year-old also made an effort to prevent the opposition from bringing up constitutional amendments that may soften wording emphasising Turkishness at the detriment of other ethnicities.

“Refugees and terrorism”
Analysts wonder the impact Ogan’s endorsement will have on his supporters.

His small party has only existed for a few months, and the majority of his supporters seem to be unhappy with both Turkiye’s leader, who has Islamic roots, and his 74-year-old secular competitor.

In contrast, it undercuts Kilicdaroglu’s urgent attempts to increase his support among more nationalist voters in the lead-up to the second round.

“Ogan’s newly discovered reputation as a kingmaker is overstated. Ogan’s support for Erdogan does not ensure that his first-round supporters will do the same, according to Hamish Kinnear of the Verisk Maplecroft consultancy, who was speaking to AFP.

Only a small percentage of Ogan’s voters must support Erdogan in order to propel the president into his third decade in office, assuming the first round supporters of Erdogan stay on board.

Kilicdaroglu launched a more open-minded campaign that was centred on the severe economic crisis afflicting Turkey and Erdogan’s suppression of human liberties during his second decade in power.

But in his first public appearance after the election last week, he adopted a noticeably more nationalist stance.

When he assumes office, the former civil servant promises to return “all the refugees home” and accuses Erdogan of failing to “protect the borders and honour of our country.”

Erdogan has made it clear that he had no plans to give in to Ogan in order to win his support.

In a tweet that was sent out shortly after Ogan’s pronouncement, Kilicdaroglu sounded defiant.

He declared that unnamed forces were “selling out this beautiful country” and made it clear that he would keep working to increase the nationalist vote.

Kilicdaroglu wrote, “We are coming to save this country from terrorists and refugees. “This is a vote in. No longer is it possible to fool anyone.