Erdogan can’t make it, Turkey goes to the ballot: it’s the first time in history
For the first time in Turkish history, there will be a ballot. Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday failed to pass the 50 percent threshold in the first round of the presidential elections, stopping just short of an absolute majority of votes. To remain at the helm of the country he has governed for 20 years, he will have to face opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the May 28 runoff, the first in the history of the Turkish republic.
After a day that saw almost 90 percent of eligible voters go to the polls, the data show Erdogan with 49.35 percent of the votes, with 99 percent of the ballots scrutinized. At 45 percent Kilicdaroglu, at the head of a coalition of six parties, led by his Republican People’s Party (CHP). A result in contrast with the polls, which saw the 74-year-old economist ahead, with some institutes predicting a victory in the first round. The vote also handed the majority to Erdogan’s coalition, with his Justice and Development Party (AKP) at 49.3 percent, compared to 35.2 for the CHP.
“We are leading the presidential elections,” Erdogan said, looking out from his party headquarters in Ankara, together with his wife. In a speech lasting a few minutes, the outgoing president said that he will “respect” any runoff election. “If our nation says it will go to the second round, we will absolutely win the runoff,” Kilicdaroglu told reporters. “The willingness to change in society is over 50%”.
The first results published after the polls closed yesterday saw Erdogan at 56 percent, then a gradual decline brought him below the absolute majority threshold until he reached below 50 percent. “A farce”, wrote Kilicdaroglu, who claimed on Twitter: “We are ahead”. “To attempt to announce the results rashly is to usurp the national will,” Erdogan replied.
In the end Erdogan won throughout the central part of the country and along the Black Sea coast, while Kilicdaroglu obtained the majority of votes on the Aegean coast, the Mediterranean coast and the Kurdish-majority southeast, thanks to the support of pro-Kurds of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Both will now bet on the 5.2 percent of the third candidate, the nationalist Sinan Ogan, who could become the “kingmaker” of the second round.