Turkey’s Erdogan says he still has a chance to win and will accept run-off vote in presidential election

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ruled the country with an increasingly firm grip for 20 years, was embroiled in a heated election campaign early on Monday, posing as the biggest challenger in the final. A run-off vote could have been held. votes were counted.

NATO allies straddling Europe and Asia but bordering Syria and Iran, whether the results will be announced in the next few days or after the second round of voting has taken place in two weeks. remains under Erdogan’s control or resumes the more democratic path promised by Erdogan. His main rival, opposition leader Kemal Kirikdaroglu.

The 69-year-old Erdogan told supporters in Ankara that he could still win but would respect the country’s decision if there was a run-off election in two weeks.

“It remains to be seen whether the elections have ended with the first round of voting. He pointed out that votes from Turkish citizens still need to be counted. He won 60% of the foreign votes in 2018.

The main focus of this year’s election was on the economy, civil rights and domestic issues such as the February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people. But Western countries and foreign investors were also waiting, thanks to Erdogan’s unconventional economic leadership and often fickle but successful efforts to put Turkey at the center of international negotiations. .

With the informal tally almost complete, voter support for the incumbent fell short of the majority needed for him to be fully re-elected. Erdogan won 49.4% of the vote, compared to 44.9% for Kirikdaroglu, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We will definitely win the second round and bring democracy,” said six-party coalition candidate Kilicda Rogul, 74, arguing that Erdogan had lost faith in the country, which is now seeking change.

Turkey’s electoral authority, the Supreme Electoral Commission, said it was providing figures to competing parties “immediately” and would publish the results once the tally was complete and finalized.

The majority of the votes from the 3.4 million eligible overseas voters still needed to be counted, according to the board, and a May 28 runoff vote was uncertain.

Howard Eisenstaedt, an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at St. Lawrence University in New York, said Sunday’s congressional elections are likely to favor the president’s party, so the run-off will likely go ahead. He said Mr Erdogan was likely to have an advantage. Voters would not want a “divided government,” he said.

Erdogan has ruled Turkey as prime minister or president since 2003. Opinion polls leading up to the elections showed the increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan trailing his opponents by a narrow margin.

With partial results showing otherwise, members of Mr. Kirikdaroglu’s centre-left, pro-secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) argued that state institutions were biased in favor of Mr. Erodogan, and Mr. Anadolu disputed the original figures for

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK) spokesman Omer Celik has now accused the opposition of “an attempt to assassinate the will of the state”. He called the opposition’s claims “irresponsible.”

Erdoğan hopes to win a five-year term that marks his 30th year as Turkish leader, but Kirikda Rogğlu is determined to reverse the crackdown on free speech and other forms of democratic setbacks and restore high power. He campaigned on a promise to fix an economy hit by interest rates. Inflation and currency devaluation.

Voters also elected deputies to fill the 600 seats in the Turkish parliament, which narrowly passed a referendum to change the country’s system of governance to an executive presidential system in 2017.

Erdogan’s ruling coalition has hovered around 49.4%, while Kirikda Rogul’s National Alliance has about 35% and pro-Kurdish parties have more than 10%, according to Anadolu news agency.

“Even if the results of the election are not final, it does not change the fact that the people elected us,” Erdogan said.

More than 64 million people, including overseas voters, were eligible to vote, with nearly 89% of them voting. This year marks her 100th anniversary of the founding of Turkey as a republic, a modern, secular nation that arose on the remains of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey’s voter turnout has traditionally been high despite years of government suppression of freedom of expression and assembly, especially since the 2016 coup attempt. Erdoğan has blamed followers of former cleric Fethullah Gulen for the coup attempt and has launched a major crackdown on officials and pro-Kurdish politicians suspected of having ties to Gulen. .

Internationally, the election was seen as a test of the joint opposition’s ability to centralize nearly all state power and oust leaders who have sought to wield greater influence on the world stage.

Erdogan, along with the United Nations, helped broker a deal between Ukraine and Russia that would allow Ukrainian grain to reach the rest of the world from Black Sea ports despite Russia’s war with Ukraine. The deal, which is being implemented by an Istanbul-based center and is due to expire in the next few days, held talks last week to keep it in place.

But Erdogan also said Turkey was too lenient on followers of US-based clerics and members of pro-Kurdish groups, whom Turkey sees as a threat to national security, while calling for concessions to NATO. It has thwarted Sweden’s quest for membership.

Critics say the president’s heavy-handed style is responsible for the painful cost of living crisis. Inflation fell to about 44% from a high of about 86%, according to the latest official data. The price of vegetables has become an issue in the opposition campaign, which used the onion as a symbol.

Contrary to mainstream economic thinking, Erdogan has pressured the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey to cut key interest rates multiple times, arguing that high interest rates promote inflation.

Erdogan’s government also faced criticism for its slow and delayed response to the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated 11 southern states. Lax enforcement of building codes is believed to have exacerbated casualties and misery.

During his election campaign, Erdogan tried to persuade voters by using his domineering stance on state resources and the media. He accused opposition parties of colluding with “terrorists”, “hard drinkers” and championing LGBTQ+ rights, which threaten traditional family values ​​in this Muslim-majority country. he draws.

To secure support, Turkish leaders have increased wages and pensions, subsidized electricity and gas tariffs, and showcased Turkey’s own defense and infrastructure projects.

“Getting paid or putting food on the table doesn’t necessarily overcome your party identity,” said Isentat, a professor at the university. “Erdoğan’s efforts to polarize, demonize opponents as traitors and terrorists, use culture wars…all of this was done to exploit these dynamics.”

Kirikdaroglu’s National Alliance has promised to return Turkey’s governing system to parliamentary democracy if it wins both the presidential and parliamentary votes. He also promised to restore the independence of the judiciary and central bank.

“We all miss democracy so much.

Former academic Sinan Ogan, who has so far won more than 5% of the vote, backed by an anti-immigration nationalist party, was also running for the presidency. Turkey’s Erdogan says he still has a chance to win and will accept run-off vote in presidential election

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