Türkiye looks set for its first presidential election run-off

Turkey, or Türkiye as is the required spelling according to the UN upon the country’s request in 2021, looks set for its first presidential election run off as neither party managed an outright win.

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Incumbent Turkish president, leader of the AK Party, Recip Erdogan, of the AK Party fell just short of the 50% required to win outright with 49.5% of the votes, against the main opposition candidate Kamal Kilicdaroglu, of a six-party alliance in an attempt to unseat Erdogan, with just under 45% of the votes.

Both candidates say they are ready to face each other in a possible second round. The margin between the opponents is of around two million votes.

A third presidential candidate, Sinan Ogan garnered more votes than expected and although he has not yet pronounced which candidate he would back, he has the potential to make either leading candidates president. Having run on anti-immigrant and anti-refugee campaign promises that would somehow have to be satisfied if he backed either candidates, he will no doubt be courted by both sides for his 5.2% of the votes.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been in power in Türkiye for over 20 years. He served as the Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 and became the country’s first directly elected President in August 2014. More recently criticised for inflation and the Turkish Lira’s devaluation against the dollar, Erdogan lost some support for a slow response to the devastating earthquakes earlier this year. The AK Party are content with the results as polls had shown Erodgan losing marginally to Kilicdaroglu.

On the centenary year of the Turkish Republic, it was clear that the Turkish people wanted to have their say in the future of their country by casting their votes with a turnout of a whopping 88% of the electorate, according to the Election Council.

OSCE, the elections monitoring group overseeing Türkiye’s elections gave a press conference this morning regarding their observations based on 28 of their officials’ findings stationed throughout the country since April, stating that they were impressed by the turnout. Their main conclusions shared were “voters had a choice between genuine political alternatives and voter participation was high, but the incumbent and the ruling party enjoyed an unjustified advantage including through biased media coverage, so the genuine political alternatives got limited by an unlevel playing field. In addition to this, the continued restrictions on fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression hinder the participation of some opposition politicians, and parties, civil society and independent media in the election process.”

Türkiye is one of the countries with the highest number of members of the press in jail, particularly since the attempted military coup of 2016, when perceived threats to Erdogan’s reign were incarcerated from professors, to the military as well as journalists.

The second round, a first in the nation’s history, is expected to be set for May 28th.

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