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The counting in Türkiye is underway: Erdogan is under…

Erdogan’s lead over Kilicdaroglu shrinks as more votes are counted. The opposition accuses the official Anadolu News Agency of manipulation and believes that its candidate, Kilicdaroglu, is slightly ahead. On the other hand, Erdogan accuses the opposition of “stealing” the “national will”.

The outcome of Turkey’s presidential election may not be decided until the run-off on May 28. That’s what insiders from both camps said Sunday night. Previously, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s lead was shrinking. A run-off is required if no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

And shortly after 10 p.m., the incumbent Erdogan fell below 50 percent, according to state media reports — at 88.59 percent. Turkish media, citing figures from the state-run Anadolu Agency, reported that Erdogan won 49.94 percent of the vote and opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu 44.30 percent.

In addition to the two, there was another less well-known candidate in the first round of voting, Sinan Ogan, who received 5.3 percent according to preliminary results. Ogan is a candidate for an ultra-nationalist party alliance. Another candidate, Muharrem Ince, withdrew but received 0.46 percent of the vote.

The AKP strongholds were counted in the first place

In the first accusations against Erdogan in the beginning. However, the numbers only indicated just over 60 percent of the votes counted, most of which came from strongholds of Erdogan’s conservative Islamist AKP government. According to the agency, Erdogan was initially at 54.3 percent after 25.7 percent of the votes were counted.

According to figures from pro-opposition news portal Anka, Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu were roughly even after the partial count — both at less than 50 percent.

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The opposition candidate himself was optimistic after counting the first votes. “We’re ahead,” said the 74-year-old. This prompted Erdogan, in turn, to accuse the opposition of “stealing the national will.”

Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul and a friend of Kilicdaroglu’s party, called on CHP headquarters to ignore Anadolu’s numbers. He said: “We do not believe Anatolia.” Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas also stated that Kılıçdaroğlu is currently advancing. This applies to the counting of nearly 24 percent of the vote, says Yavas, who is a member of the Republican People’s Party, like Kilicdaroglu.

The Turkish government accused the opposition of a “dictatorial attitude” during the counting of votes. Omer Celik, spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party, said on Sunday evening that announcing the result early would be “political robbery”. Turkey’s highest electoral authority had previously lifted a ban on publishing election results until 8 p.m.

Parliament was also re-elected

In addition to the presidential elections, there were also parliamentary elections. Here, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is about 36 percent ahead of Kilicdaroglu’s opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 24.7 percent, Turkish media reported after nearly 80 percent of the votes were counted.

Thus, the coalition of the Justice and Development Party and three other parties received more than 50 percent of the vote. While the CHP-iYi alliance reached 34.56 percent.

The most powerful head of state since Ataturk

Erdogan, who has been in power for more than two decades, is now Turkey’s most powerful head of state since Ataturk. However, its popularity has suffered, in part due to high inflation, which has greatly increased the cost of living for many Turks. Kilicdaroglu had declared that Turkey would once again become a parliamentary democracy, that the powers of the president would be reduced and that the judiciary would be independent. He also wants to make peacekeeping a central part of his foreign policy.

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“We pray to God for a better future for our country, our nation and Turkish democracy,” Erdogan said at the vote in Istanbul. His opponent, Kilicdaroglu, smiled as he cast his vote in Ankara and drew applause from the waiting crowd. “I express my sincere love and respect to all citizens who go to the polls and cast their votes,” Kilicdaroglu said. “We all miss democracy very much.”