Turkey’s Presidential Election Likely Heads to Runoff

May 15, 2023

Neither lead candidate appeared to have secured 50% in Turkey’s Presidential election Sunday, likely sending the race into a runoff.

As of Monday morning, 20-year incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was ahead with 49.46% of the vote while his leading rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, had 44.79%, according to Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK). 

Kilicdaroglu, who is representing a united front of six different opposition parties, has promised to reverse the retreat from democracy that Turkey has experienced under two decades of Erdogan.

Though Turkey is a member of NATO, Erdogan is a personal ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The pair met face-to-face this past August in Sochi, Russia following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Further, Erdogan’s regime has refused to vote to allow Sweden to join NATO over Stockholm’s unwillingness to prosecute anti-Islam activists and pro-Kurdish groups inside that country, though Turkey did last month to approve Finland’s becoming NATO’s 31st member nation.

On Sunday Erdogan’s People Alliance, made up of his Islamist-rooted AK Party and its nationalist partners, appeared set to win a majority—321—of Turkey’s 600 seats in parliament, adding to his momentum in a presidential election runoff.

“The winner has undoubtedly been our country,” Erdogan said in a speech to supporters Sunday night.

Kilicdaroglu meanwhile said in a speech to his own supporters, “God willing, we will win this victory in the second round.”

PHOTO: Turkey’s Presidential Complex in Ankara

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