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Nationalist Wild Card Backs Erdogan, Upends Runoff Dynamics

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ISTANBUL: An obscure firebrand nationalist contender, Sinan Ogan, who clinched a modest 5.2% of the vote in the preliminary presidential election on 14 May, has thrown his weight behind President Tayyip Erdogan for the imminent runoff. This unexpected endorsement serves as a major shot in the arm for Erdogan’s campaign, further muddying the waters for opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

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Ogan’s unforeseen rise as a potential “kingmaker” in the runoff has captivated analysts and the public alike. In a press conference held in Ankara, he unveiled his decision to back Erdogan, highlighting the pivotal role his own campaign played in catapulting Turkish nationalists as influential players in the political sphere. Ogan lambasted Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance for falling short in persuading him about the future, emphasizing the cruciality of sustained efforts in combating terrorism.

In the initial balloting, Erdogan secured 49.5% of the support, overshadowing Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9%, with Erdogan’s ruling party coalition clinching a parliamentary majority. This puts Erdogan in a favorable position as he strives to extend his two-decade reign in one of Turkey’s most crucial electoral showdowns.

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