Erdogan leads as Turkey set for run-off presidential vote

(Update: edits headline, lead, adds info throughout)

Istanbul, May 15 (EFE).- Turkey was headed for a run-off vote after Sunday’s presidential elections in which neither incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his nearest rival Kemal Kiliçdaroglu won a clear majority.

With ballot counting all but complete on Monday, the electoral commission’s president Ahmet Yener said the conservative and populist Erdogan had secured 49.5% of the vote compared to Social Democrat Kiliçdaroglu’s 45%, setting up a second round on May 28.

Sinan Ogan, from the ultranationalist Ata Alliance, came a distant third with 5.3 percent.

Despite the fact that Erdogan has lost the absolute majority he won in 2014 and cemented in 2018, he still performed better than pre-election polls had predicted.

Before becoming president in 2014, the conservative Islamist had been prime minister since 2003.

Elections were also held to elect 600 members of parliament.

Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) secured the most votes but took only 35 percent of the share, the party’s worst result since it came to power in 2002.

Nevertheless, the AKP will probably remain the largest party in parliament thanks to its alliance with other parties, mainly the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Islamic fundamentalist Yeniden Refah.

The AKP will see its number of seats reduced from 285 to 268, but the alliance should hold 324 of the 600 seats to maintain a comfortable majority.

The opposition Social Democratic party (CHP) will see its tally rise from 134 seats to 167.

Turnout was high, at 89%, three percentage points higher than the last election in 2018.

Although monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday’s elections were “well-managed” and “offered voters a choice between genuine political alternatives,” Erdogan and the ruling parties “enjoyed an unjustified advantage, including through biased media coverage.”

“The continued restrictions on fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression hindered the participation of some opposition politicians and parties, civil society and independent media in the election process,” the OSCE said in a statement on Monday.

“Nonetheless, the campaign itself was competitive and largely free for most contestants,” it added. EFE


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