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Turkey election: Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu face run-off vote for presidency

Turkey election: Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu face run-off vote for presidency

Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu will battle it out in a run-off vote on May 28 as Turkey’s presidential election goes to the wire.

A looming second round of voting was confirmed on Monday as the head of Supreme Electoral Board said that even when the remaining 35,874 uncounted overseas votes from Sunday’s election were distributed, no one would secure the majority needed to win the elections outright.

Ahmet Yener said preliminary results showed Mr Erdogan won 49.51%, his main challenger Mr Kilicdaroglu won 44.88% and the third candidate Sinan Ogan won 5.17%.

Earlier Mr Erdogan, who has ruled his country with an increasingly firm grip for 20 years, said he would respect the nation’s decision should the election go to a second round in two weeks’ time.

Mr Erdogan, 69, addressed supporters from the balcony of his AK Party headquarters in the capital Ankara on Monday. “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,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech at the party headquarters (AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech at the party headquarters (AP)

The election centred on domestic issues such as the economy, civil rights and the earthquake which killed more than 50,000 people across 11 southern provinces in February. Mr Kilicdaroglu, the 74-year-old Nation’s Alliance candidate, said Mr Erdogan had lost the trust of a country now demanding change. “We will absolutely win the second round... and bring democracy,” he said.

Freedom of expression and assembly have been suppressed under Mr Erdogan, and Turkey is wracked by a cost-of-living crisis that critics blame on his mishandling of the economy.

The country is also reeling from the effects of February’s earthquake, when thousands of people were killed in unsafe buildings. Mr Erdogan’s government has been criticised for its delayed response to the disaster, as well as a lax implementation of building codes.

The election results, whether they come within days or after a second round, will determine if a Nato ally that straddles Europe and Asia but borders Syria and Iran remains under Mr Erdogan’s control or follows a more democratic path promised by Mr Kilicdaroglu.

Polls closed after nine hours of voting in the national election, which could grant Mr Erdogan another five-year term. Voters also elected members for the 600-seat parliament, which has lost much of its legislative power under Mr Erdogan’s executive presidency.

The AKP received 35 per cent of the votes, with more than 96 per cent of the votes counted, according to state news agency AA — the party’s worst score since it was first voted in back in 2002. It suggests the party will have 267 MPs, losing 28 seats.

The opposition has promised to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy if it wins the ballots for both presidency and legislature.

More than 64 million people, including 3.4 million overseas, were eligible to vote in the elections.

Turkey will this year mark the centenary of its establishment as a republic — a modern, secular state born on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.