Turkish opposition denounces election manipulation, claims lead

(Update 2: Adds opposition complaints, updated vote count)

Istanbul, May 14 (EFE).- Turkey’s social-democratic opposition CHP party on Sunday claimed that there has been “manipulation” in the release of the presidential and parliamentary election results, asserting that its candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu had defeated current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is running for reelection.

“They are continuously challenging voting and thus they are blocking the system. The system must not be manipulated with (such) challenges,” warned Kilicdaroglu during a brief television appearance.

“Let the votes be counted and let the result be clear. I’m also warning the members of the Electoral Commission: don’t block the will of the nation. We will be here until the last vote has been counted,” the CHP leader said.

He did not say who, in his judgment, was heading the vote counting procedure, but several top officials from the CHP had said earlier that – according to results sent in by CHP election officials, Kilicdaroglu was showing an advantage over Erdogan, although preliminary and unofficial results reported by the government’s Anadolu news agency showed the opposite.

Top election official Ahmet Yener earlier had made an appearance to declare that the official vote count had tabulated 69 percent of the ballots, although Anadolu and other media outlets had reported that more than 90 percent had been counted.

“There are 7.5 million votes that have not entered into the system. They’re coming from sites where we are stronger. They are manipulating the results and leaving people waiting in front of the television all night,” said Istanbul Mayor and opposition vice presidential candidate Ekrem Imamoglu.

“We believe the whole nation will see that Kilicdaroglu will be ahead (in the vote count) by morning,” he added.

According to Anadolu, Erdogan had received 49.7 percent of the votes, five points more than the opposition candidate with 93 percent of the votes counted.

If that is correct, Erdogan would have lost the absolute majority whereby he won the presidency in 2014 and then reelection in 2018, and he would have to face off against Kilicdaroglu in a runoff in two weeks.

“We don’t trust the AKP system (Erdogan’s party). We don’t trust Anadolu,” said Imamoglu, who defeated the AKP candidate for the Istanbul mayorship in 2019.

Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas, also a social democrat, said that the figures he had received showed that the opposition presidential candidate had garnered 47.7 percent of the votes, two points more than Erdogan.

“The probability of a runoff is high, but our (party) president still can win in the first round,” he said, referring to the CHP’s Kilicdaroglu.

Meanwhile, the AKP has gotten its worst result since Erdogan came to power in 2002, according to figures reported by Anadolu.

The news agency reported that with 93 percent of the votes counted, the AKP had received 35.5 percent of the ballots, only slightly above the 34.3 percent it received in 2002, when it was a new party that was able to garner that support due to the fact that the opposition was split among many parties.

However, despite the relatively poor showing, the AKP should still be able to dominate the legislature due to its electoral alliance with other conservative parties, mainly the ultranationalist MHP (slightly over 10 percent) and the fundamentalist Yeniden Refah (under 3 percent), with which it would hold an absolute majority of seats.

Forecasts are that the AKP, with its coalition partners, should be able to control 324 of the 600 seats in parliament.

The CHP, meanwhile, will increase its seats from 134 to 167, according to Anadolu’s reporting.

EFE as-iut-dt/bp

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