2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Turkey faces momentous runoff election after Erdogan fails to win outright
Turkey is braced for a bruising runoff election 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.
The incomplete results for both frontrunners remained just below the threshold 50% mark after 99% of ballot boxes were opened, according to Turkey’s Supreme Election Council. So far, Erdogan has 49.40% of the vote, Kilicdaroglu gained 44.96% and the third candidate, Sinan Ogan, earned 5.2%, the head of the council Ahmed Yener said.
With the final count underway, the electorate will turn to a second round of voting that could extend Erdogan’s 20-year grip on power, or set the stage for a change in political direction.
Each candidate looked to re-energize voters once results began to surface in the early hours of Monday, in remarks that framed their contrastingly conservative and secular approaches to power.
Erdogan said he was “already ahead” of his “closest rival.”
“We are already ahead of our closest rival by 2.6 million votes. We expect this figure to increase with official results,” he commented.
He added that his camp does not know yet “if the presidential election is over in the first round,” but said, “We believe we will finish this round with over 50% of the votes.”
The leader of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party received a litany of criticism in the months preceding the election, fielding accusations of negligence following the deadly February 6 earthquake, and overseeing an unorthodox fiscal policy that has plunged the nation into a cost of living crisis.
His decision to maintain close relations with Russia amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine has also caused friction with NATO allies, after he blocked requests for Finland and Sweden’s accession to the transatlantic military alliance. He campaigned on a manifesto championing the stability of his long rule, independent foreign policy and lowering the retirement age.
Kilicdaroglu, who represents an election coalition of six opposition parties, has promised an overhaul of Erdogan’s Islamist-leaning policies in favor of a political slogan based on secularism and fixing Turkey’s economic woes.
He welcomed the prospect of a runoff vote and said his party would triumph, after accusing Erdogan’s AK Party of demanding recounts and delaying results in opposition strongholds, including in Ankara and Istanbul.
“If our nation says second round, we gladly accept it. We will absolutely win this election in the second round. Everyone will see that,” Kilicdaroglu said, of the runoff.
Supporters for both candidates claimed momentum was on the side of their candidate, but the final results of the runoff could be determined by a key third component.
Ogan, the 55-year-old far-right candidate, has enough support from the first round to swing the vote in either Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu’s favor, depending on whom he chooses to endorse.
“There will be another difficult 15 days ahead,” Ogan said on Sunday at a press briefing in Ankara.
“We will do our best to make this process a good one for our nation and our country. At this time, we are not saying that we will support one party or the other.”
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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