Turkey elections: Runoff likely as Erdogan's vote share falls below 50%

World Monday 15/May/2023 08:20 AM
Turkey elections: Runoff likely as Erdogan's vote share falls below 50%

Ankara : Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing the biggest challenge yet in his two decades in power after millions voted in a landmark election on Sunday, reported CNN.

State-run Anadolu news agency's latest figures show Erdogan's lead under 50 per cent and his main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, over 44 per cent. If neither wins a majority, they will go to a runoff -- which would be a first for Erdogan. With 89 per cent of the ballot boxes opened, preliminary unofficial results show President Erdogan's share of votes at 49.94 per cent, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

As things stand, the Turkish presidential election is going for a run-off on May 28.

Opposition leaders have rejected Anadolu's figures, saying they are misleading, and Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP), has insisted he is ahead in the polls, reported CNN.

Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party of demanding recounts and delaying results in opposition strongholds, including in Ankara and Istanbul.

"My dear nation, they are blocking the system with repeated objections at ballots where we have higher votes. For example, there are persistent objections at 300 ballots in Ankara and 783 ballots in Istanbul. There is a ballot with six, and another with 11 objections," he told reporters in a statement at his party headquarters in Ankara.

Kilicdaroglu called on Erdogan to stop dealing in "perception management," adding that the opposition will not allow the vote to be a "fait accompli."

"This is a serious matter. Let the votes come in and the result to be known as soon as possible. The country can no longer tolerate uncertainty. Do not be afraid of the nation's will," he said.

He also urged election officials to act responsibly, and not let the process be stalled, reported CNN.

"I repeat: Do not block this nation's will. I would like to call on the democracy workers in the field. Do not leave the ballots and election councils. We are here until every vote has been counted," he said.

Ahmet Yener, the head of the Turkish election board, has said that 71.64 per cent of the votes within the country and 18.76 per cent of the votes from abroad were entered into its system, reported Al Jazeera.

A total of 69.12 per cent of the votes have been entered in the system, he added.

Sinan Ogan, the presidential race's third candidate backed by the right-wing Ata Alliance, foresaw the polls going to a second round.

At this time, Ogan said, there would be no announcement on who the alliance is going to support in the run-off, reported Al Jazeera.

He said that will take place after internal deliberations. Ogan appears to be gathering more votes than expected, surpassing five per cent.

The presidential and parliamentary elections took place three months after an earthquake killed more than 50,000 people in southern Turkey. They also come amid a serious economic crisis and what analysts say is democratic erosion under Erdogan's government.