Istanbul In the run-off election for the presidency in Turkey, success is emerging for the incumbent: According to several news agencies, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ahead. Almost 97 percent of the votes have now been counted.
The Anadolu state agency sees Erdogan ahead with around 52.2 percent. At the Anka news agency, which is close to the opposition, the incumbent has 51.8 percent – and is ahead of his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu there as well. The differences arise because the agencies receive their figures directly from poll workers on site and include them in their statistics.
Erdogan himself declared himself the winner of the presidential election before all the votes were counted. He thanks everyone who would have made it possible for him to govern for the next five years, Erdogan told cheering supporters in Istanbul on Sunday.
Around 61 million people were called to vote in Turkey on Sunday. Eligible voters in Germany and other countries have already voted.
The first prominent congratulator from abroad is Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who commented on the election results via Twitter. The Taliban also conveyed their congratulations before all the votes were counted. The head of government of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Hassan Achund, hopes for a continuation of “friendly relations” with Turkey, as the Tolonews broadcaster reported on Sunday.
Also before the announcement of the official election results, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbaiba congratulated them.
Erdogan, who has been president since 2014 and heads the conservative AKP (Justice and Development Party), did significantly better in the first round of elections on May 14 than pollsters had expected. However, the 69-year-old failed to achieve an absolute majority with 49.5 percent of the votes, so the run-off election was scheduled. The ultra-nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan spoke out in favor of Erdogan after his departure in the first round.
Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the social democratic Republican People’s Party CHP, had won 44.9 percent in the first round. The 74-year-old, who ran at the head of a six-party coalition, garnered support from the nationalist camp. The head of the Victory Party, Ümit Özdag, called on his supporters to elect the opposition leader.
Challenger with anti-immigrant campaign
Before the run-off, the opposition leader changed tactics and tried to score points with an anti-refugee campaign. For example, Kilicdaroglu announced that as president, he would primarily send Syrians seeking protection in the country back to their home country within a year. On the eve of the runoff election, he also promised in a tweet that if he won the election, all games in Turkey’s first football league would be shown on state television free of charge.
The result of the runoff election makes it clear that Kilicdaroglu was unable to convince voters with his new course. Even within his own ranks, the candidate received a lot of criticism for his anti-refugee election campaign. Comrades-in-arms from the six-party coalition of his opposition alliance partially withdrew from their parties or condemned Kilicdaroglu’s new election slogans.
In addition, this shift in strategy largely pushed the desolate state of the economy in the country into the background in the debates of the past few days. The opposition’s previous election promise to abolish Erdogan’s presidential system also played almost no role in Kilicdaroglu’s appearances before the run-off election.
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