Türkiye preparing for a Monday runoff election, after a dramatic night in which the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan outstripped his secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu but failed to win in the first round.
“Although the results have not yet been published, we are clearly in the lead,” Erdogan told a crowd of supporters gathered in the middle of the night in Ankara.
“We still don’t know if the elections have ended with this first round, but if the people take us to the second round, we will respect it,” he said.
He added that his pro-government conservative alliance won a “majority” in the Parliament.
For his part, Kilicdaroglu assumed that there would be a new vote and promised to win the second round. “If our nation says a runoff, we will absolutely win in the runoff,” he told reporters early Monday.
He added that “the desire for change in society is greater than 50%.”
With a 98.96% of the votes counted, the conservative Erdogan, 69, obtained the 49.35% of the votes while his rival, the social democrat and secular Kilicdaroglu, 74, the Four. Five %, according to the state agency anadolu.
The figures can still evolve, but for now they open the way to a second round on May 28.
A second round would be unprecedented in that country of 85 million inhabitants, which celebrates this year the hundred years of the founding of its republic.
Leading opposition figures claimed the government was purposely slowing down the count in districts where Kilicdaroglu enjoyed strong support.
“They are challenging the count that comes out of the polls, in which we have a massive advantage,” the opposition mayor of istanbulEkrem Imamoglu.
According to the mayor, the internal recount of the opposition showed that Kilicdaroglu obtained 49% of the votes and Erdogan only 45%.
Neither of the two counts, however, avoids the possibility of a second round in two weeks.
In a deeply divided Turkey after two decades of Erdogan in power, the duel to choose the thirteenth president of the country is very close.
Just over 64 million people, who also elected their Parliament, were called to vote. The participation rate for this Sunday has not yet been revealed, but the country usually has a participation greater than 80%.
In 2018, in the last presidential elections, Erdogan won in the first round with more than 52.5% of the votes. A second round would imply a setback for him.
Good humor and a festive atmosphere abounded among voters throughout the day, which coincided with Mother’s Day in Türkiye.
Erdogan voted in Üsküdar, a conservative Istanbul neighborhood, where he wished “a prosperous future for the country and for Turkish democracy.”
The current president highlighted the “enthusiasm of the voters,” particularly in the areas most affected by the earthquake on February 6, which left at least 50,000 dead.
The opposition candidate, Kilicdaroglu, voted shortly before in Ankara. “We have missed democracy,” she declared with a smile.
“You’ll see, spring will return to this country God willing and it will last forever,” he added, referring to one of his slogans.
Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Türkiye modern, leads a six-party coalition that ranges from the nationalist right to the liberal center-left.
He also received the support of the pro-Kurdish HDP party, the third largest political force in the country.
Erdogan promised to respect the result at the polls, which is monitored by hundreds of thousands of election observers from both sides, on whom he has always based his legitimacy.
On this occasion, the president came to the vote in a country hit by an economic crisis, with a currency devalued by half in two years and inflation that exceeded 85% in autumn, in addition to the dramatic earthquake in February, which put it into question.
His rival is committed to appeasement and promises to restore the rule of law and respect the institutions, affected in the last ten years by Erdogan’s autocratic drift.
According to polls, his short, calm speeches, in contrast to Erdogan’s, won over the majority of the 5.2 million young Turks voting for the first time.
For the political scientist Ahmet Insel, exiled in Paris, “Erdogan’s defeat would show that we can get out of a consolidated autocracy through the ballot box.”
Türkiye, NATO Member Country, it enjoys a privileged position between Europe and the Middle East and is an important diplomatic actor.
(With information from AFP)
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