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Run-Off Likely in Turkey after Knife-Edge Presidential Election

epa10626950 Turkish voters at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey, 14 May 2023, as the country holds simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections. EPA-EFE/MANUEL DE ALMEIDA

Turkey’s presidential race was on a knife-edge on Sunday and likely heading for a run-off on May 28, according to almost complete results from the state Anadolu news agency, which also gave victory in the parliamentary election to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling People’s Alliance.

Anadolu put Erdogan on 49.67 per cent with 93 per cent of votes counted in the presidential poll, ahead of opposition challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu on 44.59 per cent. That would put both men into a run-off, though with results still coming in from big cities and barely a quarter of votes from Turkey’s large diaspora counted the result could still change.

The opposition accused Anadolu and the Supreme Election Council, YSK, of manipulating the results, a charge both rejected.

“My people! We will not sleep tonight. I warn the YSK, you must provide data entry in the provinces,” tweeted Kilicdaroglu, the joint candidate of a six-party opposition bloc.

His ally in the Republican People’s Party, CHP, Istanbul mayor and Vice-Presidential Candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, told reporters that the YSK had still to put 7.5 million votes into the system, mainly from CHP strongholds.

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party insisted it and its leader were well ahead.

“Our president is heading the elections with a dominant margin and our alliance is heading the parliamentary vote dominantly,” said party spokesman Omer Celik. Ultra nationalist Sinan Ogan was in third place, according to Anadolu, with a surprisingly strong 5.3 per cent of the vote.

Anadolu put Erdogan’s People’s Alliance on 50 per cent in the parliamentary poll, which would give it control of 323 of parliament’s 600 seats. Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance was on 34.8 per cent, or 214 seats. The third major alliance, socialist Labour and Freedom Alliance, was on 9.9 per cent, or 63 seats.

Sunday’s elections had been billed as the biggest challenge yet to Erdogan’s 21-year grip on power, and turnout was high at 88.4 per cent.

Privately-owned ANKA news agency also put Erdogan ahead, but still short of the 50 per cent threshold to avoid a run-off.

Counting will continue through the night with the YSK expected to announce official results within 48 hours.

Source: Balkan Insight