June 4, 2023

Turkish Elections: Preliminary result indicates a run-off between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu

Ankara – Preliminary results of the elections in Türkiye Released this Sunday, the 14th, by the state agency Anatolia It indicates, by a narrow margin, a second round between the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan And the leader of the opposition Kemal Kilicdaroglu. With just over 90% of the polls counted, Erdogan has 49.6% of the vote and his rival 44.6%. Nationalist Sinan Ogan got 5.3 percent.

The head of the Electoral Commission, Ahmet Yener, said earlier in the evening that the official results are expected to be announced in the early hours of the morning. Throughout the day, discrepancies between poll numbers published by the pro-Erdogan government press, and the private press, prompted protests from the opposition, which claimed to be driving the dispute.

During the afternoon a private agency Anka It released slightly different numbers for Anatolia, which had Erdoğan at 48% and Kilicdaroglu at 46%. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the winner will be decided in the second round on May 28.

Experts believe that the intentions to vote for Kilicdaroglu were exaggerated and that the embarrassing vote for Erdogan manifested itself in the final stage of the race. The support of the third-place player in the dispute should be decisive in a possible second round, according to the specialists. He has taken important votes away from an electorate traditionally aligned with Erdogan, to whom he is closest.

Opinion polls show Erdogan is running the closest election since he took office 20 years ago. filming: Turkish Presidency / via AP

On both sides of the dispute, the day was a day of tension, hostility, and allegations of impropriety.

Kilicdaroglu accused Erdogan’s supporters of demanding unnecessary recounts in Ankara and Istanbul to delay counting. His deputy, Ekrem Imamoglu, told international media that there are 7.5 million uncounted votes in the regions where the opposition alliance is stronger.

Erdogan, for his part, rallied his supporters via social media, urging them to beware of “usurpers of the national will.”

Before the vote, the president promised for 20 years in power, the outcome in the elections. But in recent weeks, his government has launched several benefits to voters, hoping to reverse a decline in opinion polls, motivated by a bad moment for the economy, the high cost of living, and a slow response to the earthquake that killed 50,000 people in February.

In the parliamentary elections, polls show that the alliance of Erdogan’s party, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, and the ultra-nationalist Movement Party is unlikely to renew its absolute majority. The results of the new composition of the Turkish parliament should be known all night.

The contradictions of the Turkish political system

Elections are not fair, but they are free. This is why there is still potential for political change in Turkey, explains political scientist Sinan Ulgen, director of Istanbul-based Edam Consulting. Today, this opportunity is greater than ever.

In power since 2002, between two terms as prime minister and president — Turkey changed its system of government in 2017 — Erdogan has eroded much of democratic institutions. He attacked the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press, and the independence of the university. Kilicdaroglu promises to undo all these changes.

But Türkiye is a politically contradictory country. Far from being a full democracy, it also does not constitute an authoritarian regime like Venezuela or Russia. This is because electoral politics is an important part of Turkish national identity. Even Erdoğan and his supporters dare not tamper too much with the foundations of the Turkish state that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established from 1923 onwards.

In the first half of the 20th century, Türkiye underwent a process of secularization and political modernization. Since 1945, the country has adopted a multi-party system, with regular elections, although it suffered coups during the Cold War.

Supporter of Kemal Kilicdaroglu awaits the outcome of the Turkish elections filming: Sona/Evie ladies

This political ambiguity is also reflected in Turkish foreign policy. On the diplomatic front, the country is a strong ally for any power, as it is a strategic link between Europe and Asia, in addition to its economic relations with the Islamic world and being part of NATO.

In recent years, Erdogan has moved away from the United States and its NATO allies and moved closer to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, despite Turkey’s historical proximity to the West.

Erdogan remains at odds with the United States over Syria policy and has criticized President Joe Biden in his speeches.

More recently, he delayed Finland’s accession to NATO and still refuses to admit Sweden to the bloc. All of this has, at times, left Western leaders wondering who Erdoğan really stands for. / The New York Times and AP