Parliament: election thriller in Turkey – the decision is made in a runoff election

Parliament: election thriller in Turkey – the decision is made in a runoff election

The race for the presidency between incumbent Erdogan and his challenger Kilicdaroglu was close – and will probably go into a second round. For Erdogan, the result is a setback.

After 20 years in power, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to face a runoff election for the first time.

With around 95 percent of the ballot boxes counted in Germany and around 37 percent abroad, Erdogan had 49.49 percent of the votes, said the head of the electoral authority, Ahmet Yener, in Ankara on Monday morning (as of 3:00 a.m. CEST). Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu came to 44.79 percent. Both missed the absolute majority of 50 percent and have to go to a runoff on May 28th.

Outsiders play an important role

Sinan Ogan from the ultra-nationalist Ata Alliance came in far behind in third place with around 5.3 percent. The outsider could still play an important role. In the run-off election it will be important which recommendation he makes beforehand.

Erdogan’s government alliance is ahead in parliamentary elections

The electoral authority did not initially announce the result of the parliamentary election. However, it became apparent that Erdogan’s government alliance was able to defend its majority. Since the introduction of a presidential system in 2018, the president has had far-reaching powers, but the parliament with its 600 MPs has been weakened.

Choice important for the future of the country

The election was seen as indicative. It is feared that the NATO country could become even more autocratic under Erdogan for another five years. The 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu is a candidate for a broad coalition of six parties. He promises a return to a parliamentary system, democracy and the rule of law. The election is also being watched closely internationally. A new government would have an impact on conflicts in the region, such as the war in Syria, but also on relations with the EU and Germany.

War of nerves over numbers

Already at the beginning of the voting there were doubts about the figures published by the Anadolu State Agency. The opposition mayors of the metropolises of Istanbul and Ankara regularly appeared before the press and accused the government of praising Erdogan’s values. Kilicdaroglu accused Erdogan’s AKP party of blocking the count in opposition strongholds with objections. Erdogan again accused the opposition of “stealing the national will”.

Erdogan counted – opposition combative

Even if Erdogan can still win in two weeks – for the 69-year-old Erdogan the result is a setback. He has won every national election in his 20 years in power. Erdogan first became prime minister in 2003 and has been president since 2014. The aura of the invincible is lost through this run-off. Erdogan was in a good mood in front of cheering supporters in Ankara that night and started a song.

Kilicdaroglu appeared in front of the press that night together with the party leaders of his six-party alliance. “Despite his defamation and insults, Erdogan did not achieve the result he expected,” he said.

New situation for everyone involved

All sides are now confronted with a completely new situation – it is not only the first run-off election for Erdogan, but also for challenger Kilicdaroglu – and for the citizens. The president has only been directly elected by the people since 2014.

Parliament could be decisive

All eyes are now on the Grand National Assembly in Ankara. Erdogan’s Islamic-conservative AKP and its ultra-nationalist partner MHP will probably be able to hold their absolute majority there. In this case, Erdogan can argue with the risk of a government crisis before the runoff election. And he promptly did so on Monday night. He was certain that voters would prefer “security and stability” in a runoff, he said.

Erdogan alluded to the fact that parliament and the president could theoretically block each other if the majority of MPs went to the government alliance, but the presidency went to the opposition, or vice versa. While the President can issue a decree without the approval of Parliament, if Parliament passes a law on the same subject, the decree would become invalid. In any case, there will be a difficult two weeks ahead of Turkey. The national currency, the lira, could continue to lose value due to the uncertain situation.

Voting went smoothly – election campaign unfair

The election campaign was also marked by the devastating earthquake of February 6 in south-eastern Turkey. How high the voter turnout was in the affected regions will be shown at the end of the count. According to an initial assessment by the competent authority, the election ran smoothly. Opposition politicians reported minor incidents from various provinces.

The election campaign was considered unfair, also because of the government’s superior media power. Erdogan had sharply attacked the opposition and described his opponent as a “drunkard” and “terrorist”. The opposition countered with a positive campaign. Even before the runoff, Erdogan will be able to rely on most of the media and the government majority in parliament.

How do Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu campaign for votes?

Erdogan advertises primarily with election gifts, such as increases in civil servants’ salaries and major projects in infrastructure and the armaments industry. Kilicdaroglu promises to fight corruption and inflation and to democratize the country. When it comes to migration, he adopts a nationalist tone. He wants to send back the approximately 3.5 million refugees from Syria and renegotiate the refugee agreement with the EU.

A total of around 64 million people were asked to vote, around 3.4 million of them abroad.

Source: Stern

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