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Far-right leader calls Erdoğan’s election win a ‘Pyrrhic victory’

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The leader of a far-right party who allied with the opposition shortly before a runoff election on Sunday has said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election win was a “Pyrrhic victory,” which is tantamount to defeat, the T24 news website reported.

Ümit Özdağ, chairman of the Victory Party (ZP), spoke at a news conference on Tuesday about the results of the presidential election.

Contrary to the prevailing perception that President Erdoğan was losing popularity due to skyrocketing inflation and a cost-of-living crisis in Turkey as well as the government’s poor response to two powerful earthquakes that hit the country in February, he secured yet another term, receiving 52.1 percent of the nationwide vote, while his main rival, opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, got 47.8 percent, according to the preliminary results.

“This victory is a Pyrrhic victory for Erdoğan, who has won the election. This is a defeat that seems like a victory. Turkey has entered a period of modern capitulations,” Özdağ said, referring to commercial privileges granted to foreigners by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries that are thought to have played a role in its collapse and implying that the Erdoğan government will have to make concessions to foreign countries to secure their help to save the economy.

The Pyrrhic victory, a victory that comes at great cost, perhaps making the ordeal to win not worth it and relating to Pyrrhus, a king of Epirus who defeated the Romans in 279 BCE but lost many of his troops, is being used by opposition politicians to refer to Erdoğan’s election victory.

In addition to Özdağ, many other Erdoğan opponents describe his success similarly given the country’s longstanding economic and social problems which they think will put Erdoğan into a difficult situation.

Özdağ said what Turkey is experiencing today is not an economic crisis but an economic collapse due to the wrong economic policies pursued by Erdoğan over the past two decades.

“Erdoğan has to deal with this collapse. He is admitting it. It’s his duty to deal with it,” Özdağ said.

Turkey’s inflation, which rose as high as 85 percent last year, is now running at more than 40 percent, partly exacerbated by Erdoğan’s unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to try and cool spiraling prices.

Analysts say Turkey’s most immediate problem is that its central bank is running out of cash.

It burned through nearly $30 billion supporting the lira this year alone.

Erdoğan’s lavish campaign spending pledges and unwavering attachment to lower interest rates are feared to further strain central banks’ currency reserves and the lira, which has long been edging down against the dollar.

Özdağ, a firm supporter of sending Turkey’s 4 million refugees back home, allied with Kılıçdaroğlu several days before the runoff election. Kılıçdaroğlu also promised during his election campaign that he would send the refugees, who are seen as the source of economic and social ills in the country, back to their homeland if he was elected.

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