HomeBreaking NewsErdogan's electoral rival in Turkey says 'we are leading'

Erdogan’s electoral rival in Turkey says ‘we are leading’

  • Polls point to a tight contest
  • Erdogan’s 20-year rule at stake
  • Sources in both camps say a runoff is likely.

ISTANBUL, May 14 (Reuters) – Turkey’s opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said he was leading against President Tayyip Erdogan in Sunday’s presidential election despite state media placing Erdogan ahead in early results.

Sources in both camps said that based on the partial results, the presidential election is likely to head to a runoff on May 28, with neither of the two leading candidates reaching the 50% threshold needed for an outright victory.

Citing manipulation in the early results of previous elections, Istanbul’s opposition mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on television that no one should pay attention to the early results shared by the state-run Anadolu agency.

New Anadolu results broadcast by Turkish media showed Erdogan ahead with 51.84% of the vote compared to Kilicdaroglu at 42.53%, with 59.44% of the ballot boxes counted.

Kilicdaroglu said on Twitter: “We are leading.”

“We can comfortably say this: Mr. Kilicdaroglu will be announced today as the 13th president of our country,” Imamoglu told a news conference.

Sunday’s vote is one of the most momentous elections in the country’s 100-year history, a contest that could end by Erdoğan imperious rule of 20 years and reverberates far beyond Turkey’s borders.

Opinion polls before the elections had given kilicdarogluwho leads a six-party alliance, a slight advantage, with two polls on Friday showing him above the 50% threshold.

He presidential vote It will decide not only who leads Turkey, a NATO member country of 85 million, but also how it is governed, where its economy goes amid a deep cost-of-living crisis, and the shape of its foreign policy.

The elections, which are also for parliament, are being closely watched in Western, Middle Eastern, NATO and Moscow capitals.

A defeat for Erdogan, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most important allies, will likely unsettle the Kremlin but comfort the Biden administration, as well as many Middle Eastern and European leaders who had troubled relations with Erdogan.

Turkey’s longest-serving leader has turned NATO member and Europe’s second-largest country into a global player, modernizing it through mega-projects like new bridges, hospitals and airports, and building a military industry. wanted by foreign states.

But his volatile economic policy of low interest rates, which triggered a spiraling cost of living and inflation, left him a prey to the wrath of voters. His government’s slow response to a devastating earthquake in southeastern Turkey that killed 50,000 people added to the consternation of voters.

Kilicdaroglu vowed to set Turkey on a new course by reviving democracy after years of state repression, returning to orthodox economic policies, empowering institutions that lost autonomy under Erdogan’s tight control and rebuilding fragile ties with the West.

Thousands of political prisoners and activists, including high-profile names like Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas and philanthropist Osman Kavala, could be released if the opposition prevails.


“I see these elections as a choice between democracy and dictatorship,” said Ahmet Kalkan, 64, as he voted for Kilicdaroglu in Istanbul, echoing critics who fear Erdogan would rule even more autocratically if he wins.

“I chose democracy and I hope my country chooses democracy,” said Kalkan, a retired health care worker.

Erdogan, 69, is a veteran of a dozen election victories and says he respects democracy and denies being a dictator.

Illustrating how the president still has support, Mehmet Akif Kahraman, who also voted in Istanbul, said Erdogan still represented the future even after two decades in power.

“God willing, Turkey will be a world leader,” he said.

The parliamentary vote is a race between the People’s Alliance comprising Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party (AKP) and the nationalist MHP and others, and Kilicdaroglu’s National Alliance made up of six opposition parties, including his Republican People’s Party (CHP). ) secularist, established by Turkey. founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

With 40.95% of the polls counted, HaberTurk placed Erdogan’s alliance at 54.22% and the opposition alliance at 31.83% of the parliamentary vote.


Erdogan, a powerful orator and campaign master, has done his best on the campaign trail. He draws the fierce loyalty of pious Turks who once felt disenfranchised in secular Turkey and his political career has survived a 2016 coup attempt and numerous corruption scandals.

However, if the Turks oust Erdogan it will be largely because they saw his prosperity and the ability to meet basic needs is declining, with inflation exceeding 85% in October 2022 and a collapse of the lira.

Erdogan has taken strict control of most of Turkey’s institutions and sidelined the liberals and critics. Human Rights Watch, in its 2022 World Report, said the Erdogan government has set Turkey’s human rights record back decades.

Kurdish voters, who make up 15-20% of the electorate, will play a vital role as the Nation Alliance is unlikely to achieve a parliamentary majority on its own.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is not part of the main opposition alliance but is fiercely opposed to Erdogan after a crackdown on its members in recent years.

Written by Alexandra Hudson Edited by Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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