Kilicdaroglu was in the impossible position of trying to make up ground by simultaneously keeping the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party voters on board and attracting the voters of nationalist candidates from the first round.
While Umit Ozdag backed Kilicdaroglu, another nationalist candidate went for Erdogan. Both candidates' pet issue was the repatriation of the 3 million-plus Syrian refugees in Turkiye (as well as millions from other countries) – even doing it by force if necessary.
While both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu were in favor of repatriation, neither had previously gone that far. Kilicdaroglu tried to talk tough on the issue in the two weeks between the election and the runoff, calling for the urgent expulsion of "10 million refugees" in the country, but while his new stance wasn't enough to win him the election, it did provide a bipartisan blessing for the anti-refugee stance.
One reason Erdogan has been so successful at remaining in power is his ability to move with public opinion. If he continues to do so, Turkiye might see a more dramatic turn to the right. While Erdogan beat expectations in the presidential vote, his party lost seats at the parliamentary level as nationalist parties outflanking him on the refugee issue were the big winners in the elections.
The Nationalist Movement Party gained one spot in the 600-seat Turkish parliament and is now at 10.4 percent – a high amount for a party that has ties to the Ulku Ocaklari, or Grey Wolves, an ultra-nationalist group long associated with political violence.