- Polls predict a close race
- Erdogan’s 20-year rule at stake
- Officials on both sides say a run-off election on May 28 is likely.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is headed for a presidential runoff, with both Tayyip Erdogan and opposition rival Kemal Kirikdalogl both claiming the lead, sources said. He acknowledges that he may not be able to meet the 50% standard for perfect wins.
Early results gave Erdogan a comfortable lead, but as the count progressed his advantage was eroded and a run-off election on May 28 arrived.
Both sides dismissed the other side’s count and no official results were announced. Ankara’s opposition mayor Mansur Yavas said his party’s tally showed Kirikdaroglu leading with 47.42 percent and Erdoğan with 46.48 percent.
In pre-election polls kirikudaroguruHe leads the six-party coalition with a slight lead, with two polls on Friday showing him above the 50% threshold.
“It looks like there are no winners in the first round, but our data shows that Kirikdaroglu is leading,” said an opposition coalition official, who requested anonymity.
Turkish media, citing figures from the state-run Anadolu News Agency, said nearly 75% of the ballot boxes had been counted, with 50.83% for Erdogan and 43.36% for Kirikdaroglu.
Sunday’s vote is one of the most impactful elections in the country’s 100-year history and could put an end to the election campaign. Erdogan’s Two decades of tyrannical rule have reverberated far beyond Turkey’s borders.
of presidential vote It will determine not only who will lead Turkey, a NATO member of 85 million people, but also how Turkey will be governed, where its economy will head amid a severe cost of living crisis, and the shape of its foreign policy. will be
The election, which is also a parliamentary election, is closely watched in Western capitals, the Middle East, NATO and Moscow.
The defeat of Erdogan, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most important allies, is likely to unsettle the Kremlin, but the Biden administration and many European and Middle Eastern leaders who had troubled relations with Erdogan. will reassure them.
Turkey’s longest-serving leader, he has turned the second-largest European NATO member into a global player, modernizing Turkey through mega-projects such as new bridges, hospitals and airports, and meeting foreign demands for a military force. built an industry.
But the volatile economic policy of low interest rates has created a spiraling cost-of-living crisis and inflation, preying on the wrath of voters. The government’s slow response to a devastating earthquake that killed 50,000 people in southeastern Turkey added to voters’ dismay.
After years of state repression, Mr. Kilicdaroglu has restored democracy, returned to orthodox economic policies, empowered institutions that had lost their autonomy under President Erdogan’s tight rule, and cut fragile ties with the West. He promised to take Turkey in a new direction by rebuilding it.
If the opposition wins, thousands of political prisoners and activists could be released, including senior officials such as Kurdish leader Serahatin Demirtas and philanthropist Osman Kabala.
“I think this election is a choice between democracy and dictatorship,” said Ahmed Kalkan, 64, who voted for Kirikdaroglu in Istanbul, adding that if Erdogan wins, the rule will be more authoritarian than ever. He echoed critics who feared that
“I chose democracy. I hope my country chooses democracy,” said Kalkan, a former health sector official.
The 69-year-old Erdogan, a veteran who has won more than a dozen elections, says he respects democracy and denies being a dictator.
Mehmet Akif Karaman, another Istanbul voter, illustrated how the president remains popular and said Mr Erdogan still represents the future after 20 years in power.
“If God wills, Turkey will become a world leader,” he said.
The parliamentary vote will be split between the People’s Alliance, which includes President Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party (AKP) and the nationalist MHP, and the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by the Turkish government in Turkey. It will be contested against Kirikda Rogulu’s National Alliance, which is composed of six opposition parties, including. The founder is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
With 62% of the ballot boxes counted, Herbertürk expected Erdogan’s coalition to win 52% of the parliamentary votes and the opposition coalition at 33%.
change or continue
A strong orator and adept at campaigning, Mr Erdogan has used every possible means in his campaign. He has drawn fierce allegiance from devout Turks who once felt disenfranchised in secular Turkey, and his political career has survived a failed coup in 2016 and numerous corruption scandals. .
But if the Turks were to oust Erdogan, it would be largely because they saw what they were doing. prosperity In October 2022, inflation will exceed 85% and the collapse of the lira currency will reduce the country’s ability to meet basic needs.
Erdoğan has tightly controlled most of Turkey’s institutions, leaving liberals and liberals aside. critic. Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2022 that Erdogan’s government set Turkey’s human rights record back by decades.
Kurdish voters, who make up 15-20% of the electorate, will play a key role, and the National Alliance is unlikely to win parliamentary majority on its own.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which is not part of the main opposition coalition, has been bitterly opposed to Erdogan following the recent crackdown on its members.
Written by Alexandra Hudson Edited by Francis Kelly
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