Monday, May 20, 2024

Turkey presidential election goes to run-off: Council

Turkey’s presidential election is headed for a runoff vote, the country's electoral chief Ahmet Yener has said citing official results from the country’s Supreme Election Council. The results for both frontrunners remained just below the threshold of 50% mark after 100% of ballot boxes were opened.

Turkey will have a runoff election on May 28 after longtime leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced into a second round with only a narrow lead over his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Neither candidate achieved the required 50% to take the presidency outright, but Kilicdaroglu now faces a tough battle to win the second round after Erdogan performed better than some opinion polls had suggested.

Erdogan took 49.5 percent of Sunday’s vote, with Kilicdaroglu getting 44.89 percent, the Council announced.

This is only the third time that Turks directly voted for a president, with Erdogan winning both previous elections outright in the first round.

Sinan Ogan from the ATA Alliance, the third candidate, received 5.17 percent, while Muharrem Ince of the Homeland Party – who withdrew from the race just three days before the elections but remained on the ballot – got 0.44 percent.

In particular, the vote for Ogan, kingmaker or spoiler, pushed the race into a run-off.

Two weeks is a long time in an election cycle, and whoever eventually wins the presidency will be determined also by whose alliance will control parliament.

The Turkish news agency published preliminary results that showed AK Party won 266 seats, while the main opposition leader Kilicdaroglu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) won 166 seats in the 600-seat parliament.

The polls were held against a background of a cost-of-living crisis that saw inflation peak at 85 percent in October and earthquakes in February that killed more than 50,000 in the country. These factors buoyed opposition hopes of unseating a leader known as reis, or “chief”, by supporters of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

CHP leader Kilicdaroglu’s six-party Nation Alliance has pledged to dismantle an executive presidential system narrowly voted in by a 2017 referendum. The opposition alliance also promised to restore the independence of the judiciary and the central bank and to reverse crackdowns on free speech and dissent under Erdogan.

Turkey’s elections had been billed as the most consequential since its first fair multi-party polls in 1950 – boiling down to a choice between five more years of Erdogan, Turkey’s most electorally successful politician, or a new direction under an old party that has reinvented itself in recent years.

During a wearying campaign, Erdogan frequently spoke at multiple rallies in a day, highlighting the advances made in Turkey during his 20-year rule while simultaneously lambasting the opposition for supporting “terrorism” or being in thrall to the West.

Kilicdaroglu, who has set the CHP on a more social democratic path since taking the helm of the party in 2010, was able to call on the support of alliance partners and the nationally recognised CHP mayors of Ankara and Istanbul to share the burden of public appearances.

Both candidates made use of social media to get their messages across in a vote where nearly five million were casting their ballots for the first time, with Kilicdaroglu employing Twitter videos filmed at his home in Ankara.

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