Turkish presidential elections are moving into the second round after a stormy night in which incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defeated his rival, Kilicdaroglu, but failed to win the first round.
None of the presidential candidates managed to break the 50 percent threshold needed to win the race.
Erdogan appeared triumphant when he appeared before a crowd of supporters after midnight to announce his intention to lead the nation for another five years.
“I am confident that we will continue to serve our people in the next five years,” the 69-year-old said happily.
Inconclusive polls showed Erdogan with 49.49 percent of the vote, with opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in second place with 44.79 percent.
The first phase of repolling for the presidential election is scheduled to take place on May 28.
Klikdaroglu’s camp initially protested the preliminary results of the vote count and claimed to be ahead.
But the 74-year-old challenger looked a little pessimistic when he faced reporters early Monday morning and admitted a run-off was inevitable.
“If our nation declares a run-off, we will definitely win the second round,” he said. He added, “The desire for change in society is more than 50 percent.”
Not only did Turkish voters vote for a new president, they also voted for 600 seats in parliament.
Although Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party won the most votes, it fell short of its leader.
The party won 35 percent of the vote, with more than 96 percent of votes counted, state-run Anadolu Agency said.
In light of the results obtained, it seems that the Justice and Development Party will win 267 representatives, which will lose 28 seats in the parliament.
But it is expected to win 56 seats in alliance with other three parties. This will give the Justice and Development Party-led coalition 323 seats in Parliament.
The alliance won 344 seats in the last 2018 elections.
Pre-election polls showed a tight race, but gave Kilicdaroglu, who heads a six-party coalition, a slight lead. He will have more than 50 percent of the vote in two polls on Friday.
Sinan Ogun, the third candidate in the presidential election, who received about 5% of the vote according to Turkish news agencies Anadolu and Anka, said his bid for the presidency changed the outcome of the vote.
If the runoff becomes official, Ogan won’t be a candidate, and his decision about who to ask his supporters to support could make all the difference.
He said he will take a decision in a couple of days.
“It looks like he won’t win the first round. But our data indicates that Klikdaroglu will take the lead,” said a senior official in the opposition coalition.
Another senior opposition official told Reuters that Erdogan’s party was raising objections to some of the votes, delaying the full results. “So far they are doing everything they can to delay the process,” he said.
BBC digital editor for Europe Paul Kirby quoted Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu as saying seven million votes were blocked from the counting process because of these objections, all of which came in an opposition stronghold. He added that this was a tactic that Erdogan’s party had used in the last seven or eight elections, as he said.
For his part, Klikdaroglu commented on what was happening: “You are blocking the will of the people”, and raised his voice in a brief but powerful speech. Erdogan’s rival did not say who was trying to manipulate the vote, but it was clear he was referring to the AKP.
He reiterated his call for opposition activists and officials to continue monitoring the count, saying, “We are there until every vote is counted.”
Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party spokesman Fayk Ostrak warned against paying attention to the early results of the Turkish elections, which were published earlier by the Anadolu news agency, saying, “The company is carrying out a process. Can’t be trusted.”
Preliminary results of the elections showed Erdogan’s lead at 51.56 percent after counting about 61.3 percent of the vote, while Kıldırığıoğlu had 42.61 percent, the agency said.
Otsak said initial polling results from a government agency he considers close to incumbent President Erdogan were false, and that turnout for the elections had reached record numbers.
According to Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu, the head of Turkey’s Supreme Election Commission said the voting process in the presidential and parliamentary elections ended without any problems.
On Sunday, Turkey’s nearly 200,000 polling stations closed at 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT) after receiving a throng of voters.
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