Turkish President Erdogan faces second round of voting after tight contest for presidency

15 May 2023, 05:09 | Updated: 15 May 2023, 06:33

Turkey's presidential election could be heading for a run-off, as state-run news agency AA reported that incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dipped below the 50 percent needed to secure another term.
Turkey's presidential election could be heading for a run-off, as state-run news agency AA reported that incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dipped below the 50 percent needed to secure another term. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Turkey's election is 'highly likely' to go to a run-off, with the two main candidates appearing to fail to clear the 50% threshold needed to avoid a second round.

With around 97 per cent of votes counted, Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads with 49.39% of the vote share, while Kemal Kilicdaroglu has 44.92%, according to state-owned news agency Anadolu.

The results, whether they come within days or after a second round of voting takes place in two weeks, will determine if a Nato ally that straddles Europe and Asia but borders Syria and Iran remains under Mr Erdogan's control or resumes the more democratic path promised by his main rival, opposition leader Mr Kilicdaroglu.

Speaking in Ankara, incumbent president Mr Erdogan, 69, said he could still win but would respect the electorate's decision if the race went to a run-off vote in two weeks.

"We don't yet know if the elections ended in the first round... If our nation has chosen for a second round, that is also welcome," Mr Erdogan said, noting that votes from Turkish citizens living abroad still need to be tallied.

He garnered 60% of the overseas vote in 2018.

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Erdogan supporters light flares as they celebrate in front of the Justice and development Party (AKP's) headquarters after polls closed
Erdogan supporters light flares as they celebrate in front of the Justice and development Party (AKP's) headquarters after polls closed. Picture: Getty

If none of the candidates are able to take a 50 percent share of the vote, a run-off election will take place on May 28.

Mr Erdogan has lead the country for two decades, is facing his toughest challenge as he seeks a third consecutive term as President.

Prior to the election, polls suggested a slight lead for his main rival Mr Kilicdaroglu, who has been picked as unity candidate by six opposition parties, while two polls on Friday him surpassing the 50 percent threshold, though most suggested that it would be a tight contest.

Erdogan greets the crowd outside his residence
Erdogan greets the crowd outside his residence. Picture: Getty
Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu leaves his home for the party's headquarters to follow the results on Sunday
Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu leaves his home for the party's headquarters to follow the results on Sunday. Picture: Getty

Turkey's voters are also going to the polls to vote for parliamentarians in their 600-seat assembly on Sunday.

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