Turkey’s Presidential Elections Appeared To Be Moving Towards A Second-round Runoff As Erdogan Falls Below 50%

vincity
vincity May 15, 2023
Updated 2023/05/15 at 4:39 PM

Turkey elections move to runoff as Erdogan falls below 50 %

Turkey’s presidential elections appeared to be be moving toward a second-round runoff on Monday, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ruled his country with a firm grip for 20 years, leading over his arch rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Erdogan has been leading with 49.4% of the votes, with Kilicdaroglu, garnering 45% of the votes, after 99.4% of the domestic votes and 84% of the overseas votes counted so far, as a third candidate, nationalist politician Sinan Ogan received 5.2%.

But, Erdogan is falling short of the majority votes needed for an outright win to extend his 20-year leadership of the NATO-member country.

Erdogan, 69, told supporters in the early hours of Monday that he could still win. He said, however, that he would respect the nation’s decision if the race went to a runoff on May 28.

Neither Erdogan nor Kilicdaroglu have been able to meet the 50% threshold needed to avoid a second round, to be held on May 28.

 

Analyst and Head of the Turkey Research Program at the Washington Institute in Washington, DC, Soner Cagaptay said, “He got enough votes to be a spoiler and deny either of the candidates a 50 percent outright victory, likely forcing the election into a run-off.” 

The vote was being closely watched to see if the strategically located NATO country — which has a coast on the Black Sea to the north, and neighbors Iran, Iraq and Syria to the south — remains under the control of the increasingly authoritarian president or can embark on a more democratic course that was envisioned by Kilicdaroglu.

Opinion polls in the runup to Sunday’s vote had given Kilicdaroglu, the joint candidate of a six-party opposition alliance, a slight lead over Erdogan, who has governed Turkey as either prime minister or president since 2003.

“We will absolutely win the second round … and bring democracy” said Kilicdaroglu, 74, maintaining that Erdogan had lost the trust of a nation now demanding change.

Ogan has not said whom he would endorse if the elections go to a second-round. He is believed to have received support from electors wanting change after two decades under Erdogan but unconvinced by the Kilicdaroglu-led six party alliance’s ability to govern.

 

The election results showed that Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party was also set to retain its majority in the 600-seat parliament, although the assembly has lost much of its legislative power after a referendum to change the country’s system of governance to an executive presidency narrowly passed in 2017.

Anadolu news agency said Erdogan’s ruling party alliance was hovering around 49.3%, while Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance had around 35.2% and support for a pro-Kurdish party stood above 10%.

The fact that Erdogan appears to have held on to his majority increases his chances of winning a second-round vote, with more voters likely to support Erdogan to avoid a split legislature.

This year’s election came amid a backdrop of economic turmoil, a cost-of-living crisis and a February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people. Western nations and foreign investors are also awaiting the outcome because of Erdogan’s unorthodox leadership of the economy and often mercurial but successful efforts to put Turkey at the center of international negotiations.

As in previous years, Erdogan led a highly divisive campaign in his bid to stretch his rule into a third decade. He portrayed Kilicdaroglu, who had received the backing of the country’s pro-Kurdish party, of colluding with “terrorists” and of supporting what he called “deviant” LGBTQ rights.

In a bid to woo voters hit hard by inflation, he increased wages and pensions and subsidized electricity and gas bills, while showcasing Turkey’s homegrown defense industry and infrastructure projects.

Kilicdaroglu, for his part, campaigned on promises to reverse crackdowns on free speech and other forms of democratic backsliding, as well as to repair an economy battered by high inflation and currency devaluation.

“That the election results have not been finalized doesn’t change the fact that the nation has chosen us,” Erdogan said.

More than 64 million people, including the overseas voters, were eligible to vote and nearly 89% voted. This year marks 100 years since Turkey’s establishment as a republic — a modern, secular state born on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Voter turnout in Turkey is traditionally strong, despite the government suppressing freedom of expression and assembly over the years and especially since a 2016 coup attempt. 

Recent News

Share this Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *