According to the first counts, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ahead in the presidential election. Around 55 percent voted for the 69-year-old on Sunday, reported the TV station TRT Haber, and 39 percent voted for Kemal Kilicdaroglu from the CHP. The information was based on counting a good 21 percent of the votes. Contrary to what was reported by several TV stations, Kilicdaroglu is slightly ahead, meanwhile four insiders from the opposition camp told Reuters.
After counting more than 25 percent of the votes, Erdogan came to around 54 percent, the state news agency Anadolu reported on Sunday evening. Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was in second place with around 40 percent. The spokesman for Kilicdaroglu’s CHP party, Faik Öztrak, said the initial data they received was “extremely positive” for the opposition. He accused Anadolu of manipulation. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamogulu (CHP) said early data pointed to a victory for Kilicdaroglu. He called on Turkish voters to ignore the Anadolu results.
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Runoff election on May 28th?
The state agency usually first publishes the counting results in Erdogan strongholds. The first data therefore do not yet allow any conclusions to be drawn about the final result. If neither candidate achieves an absolute majority, a runoff is due on May 28. Erdogan was recently behind Kilicdaroglu in polls. Experts assume that the difference in votes is likely to decrease.
The top Turkish electoral authority previously lifted a publication ban. Everything should be awaited until the official preliminary results are announced, it said. In addition to the presidential election, there was also a parliamentary election. Here, Erdogan’s AKP is 32.7 percent behind Kilicdaroglu’s opposition CHP with 34.8 percent, the Halk TV station reported after counting 0.6 percent of the votes. In contrast, CNN Turk reported that Erdogan’s AKP gained 348 seats in Turkey’s 600-seat parliament after ballots from 15 percent of the ballot boxes were counted. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) led by Kilicdaroglu won 133 seats. The alliance of AKP and three other parties can therefore count on around 400 seats and the alliance of CHP and six other opposition parties could win 180 seats.
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Erdogan, who has ruled for more than two decades, is now the most powerful head of state in Turkey since Ataturk. However, its popularity has suffered, partly because of high inflation, which has drastically increased the cost of living for many Turks.
Kilicdaroglu had announced that Turkey would become a parliamentary democracy again, that the president’s powers would be curtailed and that the judiciary would be independent. He also wants to make peacekeeping a central part of his foreign policy.
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“We pray to God for a better future for our country, our nation and Turkish democracy,” said Erdogan (69) when voting in Istanbul. His opponent, 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu, smiled as he cast his ballot in Ankara and emerged to applause from the waiting crowd. “I extend my sincere love and respect to all my citizens who go to the polls and cast their ballots,” Kilicdaroglu said. “We all miss democracy so much.”
According to a Kurdish organization, there was “a lot of election manipulation on a smaller scale.” In many places, there were reports of pre-stamped ballot papers – even before they were distributed to the voters, explained Civaka Azad from the Kurdish Center for Public Relations.
Invalid notes are also said to have been distributed. In addition, according to Azad, several thousand people were prevented from voting because they were unknowingly named as poll workers or because they were not given ballot papers because their names were allegedly not on the lists.
There have also been numerous violations of the 24-hour “propaganda ban” in force in Turkey – especially by the governing party AKP and its coalition partner MHP. There was also a strong military and police presence.