Turkey’s presidential election: Erdogan-Kilicdaroglu fight in round 2

Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face a candidate from the centre-left in a second-round of the presidential election.

Photo: Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a rally, screenshot from live stream by Reuters.

The winner of Turkey’s presidential election will be defined in the second round of voting. Neither current Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his centre-left rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu could win a majority of the vote.

Since Erdogan first came to power more than 20 years ago, this is the most competitive election in Turkey’s history. Erdogan came in top place with 49.39% of the vote but fell short of winning the first round due to insufficient support. On the other side, with 91.93% of the votes counted, Kilicdaroglu, a candidate for the centre-left CHP, was able to win 44.92.

After it looked that neither contender had obtained the required 50% of the vote to win, a second round of voting would take place on May 28.

Erdogan has fallen out of favour with many voters due to Turkey’s poor economic growth, spiralling inflation, and how the government handled a devastating earthquake in the southeast that claimed more than 50.000 lives.

On the other hand, his opponent, Kilicdaroglu, had vowed to stop Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism and has stated his intention to restore the independence of the judiciary, the central bank, and the media. The nationalist IYI party and the green-left YSP have decided to support the candidacy of the centre-left CHP.

Who will govern Turkey in the future will be decided by the voters of the third contender, Sinan Ogan, who unexpectedly received 5.3% of the vote. Ogan has positioned himself as the nationalist alternative to the two blocks.

Ogan was formerly a member of Erdogan’s AKP coalition partner, the nationalist MHP. He did, however, strongly oppose the MHP’s political endorsement of Erdogan in 2015, and in 2017, after the MHP backed the referendum to switch Turkey’s political system to a presidential republic, he eventually abandoned his party.

Mansur Yavas, the mayor of Ankara, who began his political career with the MHP but converted to the Kilicdaroglu CHP in 2013, is another nationalist politician who backs the opposition.

Although Erdogan has less to gain than his center-left competitor, the support of these famous nationalists could tip the scales in Kilicdaroglu’s favour.

Before the elections, worries that they would be unfair and unequal appeared. Experts contend that the electoral process is biased in favour of the government.

These issues mostly showed up in the way the votes were counted and in the government’s many requests for recounts, which served to stall the process.

Given that several objections were preventing some counts, opposition leader Kilicdaroglu expressed concern about the speed of the vote count.

The state-owned Anadolu news agency also received harsh criticism for manipulating the results in Erdogan’s favour. According to the Anadolu news agency, Erdogan held a 25% lead at the start of the vote count. The centre-left CHP immediately questioned the integrity of the findings.

Read also: Turkish opposition leader accuses Russia of spreading fakes ahead of the election

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