Turks vote on Sunday, May 28, in the second round of the presidential elections, with a choice between the current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a vote that will decide whether the president will extend his reign into a third decade.
Reuters presents a guide for the second round with the two candidates and the key issues, as well as details on how the parliamentary elections took place on May 14, when the first round of the presidential elections also took place, writes News.ro.
Presidential vote and first round results
Turks will elect a president for a five-year term. In the first round of voting on May 14, Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 49.5% of the vote, falling short of the majority needed to avoid a second round of voting, in a vote seen as a referendum on his autocratic regime .
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of an opposition alliance of six parties, received 44.9% of the votes. The nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan ranked third, with 5.2% support, and was eliminated.
The result contradicted poll forecasts, which put Kilicdaroglu in the lead. A referendum in 2017 narrowly approved Erdogan’s initiative to expand the prerogatives of the presidency, making the president with powers over the government and eliminating the post of prime minister.
As president, Erdogan sets the policy regarding Turkey’s economy, security, domestic and international affairs.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
More than 20 years after Erdogan and his AKP party came to power, he is hoping to extend his tenure as the longest-serving leader of modern Turkey. His remarkable performance on May 14, when he succeeded in mobilizing conservative voters, defied predictions of his political demise.
His victory would consolidate the dominance of a leader who has transformed Turkey, reshaping the secular state founded 100 years ago to fit his religious vision, while consolidating power in his hands in what critics see as a march toward autocracy. .
This week, Erdogan received the support of hardline nationalist Sinan Ogan, which strengthened the incumbent and intensified the challenge for Kilicdaroglu in the runoff.
In the parliamentary vote on May 14, support for Erdogan’s AKP fell seven points from the 42.6 percent it obtained in the 2018 election, but with his alliance enjoying a parliamentary majority, he asked voters to support him to ensure political stability.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu is both the main candidate of the opposition and the president of the CHP, a party that was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the founder of modern Turkey. He offered voters an inclusive platform and promised a democratic reset, including a return to a parliamentary system of government and the independence of the judiciary that critics say Erdogan has used to crack down on dissent.
However, after May 14, his rhetoric took a hard turn, appealing to nationalist voters in his bid to outdo Erdogan and promising to send back millions of Syrian refugees. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish parties reaffirmed their support for Kilicdaroglu in the runoff without naming him, a day after expressing anger at a deal he struck with the far-right, anti-immigrant Victory Party (ZP). .
ZP leader Umit Ozdag declared his party’s support for Kilicdaroglu on Wednesday, in a potential boost for the CHP leader, countering the impact of Ogan’s support for Erdogan. ZP obtained 2.2% of the votes in the parliamentary elections.
What is the stake?
The vote will decide not only who leads Turkey, a NATO member country with 85 million inhabitants, but also how it is governed, where its economy is headed in the context of a deep cost-of-living crisis, and the shape of its foreign policy.
Erdogan’s critics say his government has muzzled dissent, eroded rights and brought the judiciary under its sway, a charge officials deny. Turkey’s economy is also in the spotlight. Economists say it was Erdogan’s opportunistic policy of keeping interest rates low despite rising prices that led to 85% inflation last year and the lira crashing to a tenth of its value against the dollar in the last decade. Kilicdaroglu pledged to return to a more orthodox economic policy and restore the independence of the Turkish central bank.
In terms of foreign affairs, under Erdogan, Turkey has increased its military power in the Middle East and beyond, forged closer ties with Russia, and seen relations with the European Union and the United States become increasingly more tense.
Turkey and the United Nations also brokered a deal between Moscow and Kiev on Ukrainian wheat exports, and Erdogan announced a new two-month extension last week.
More than 64 million Turks are expected to vote at nearly 192,000 polling stations, including more than 6 million who voted for the first time on May 14. There are also 3.4 million voters from abroad who have already voted between May 20-24.
The polling stations in Turkey open on Sunday at 8:00 a.m. local time (also in Romania) and close at 5:00 p.m. The sale of alcohol is prohibited on election day. Voter turnout in Turkish elections is generally high. On May 14, the overall voting turnout was 87.04%, with a level of 88.9% in Turkey and 49.4% abroad.
According to the electoral rules, news, forecasts and comments about the vote are prohibited until 18.00 local time, and the press is free to report on the election results only from 21.00.
However, the High Electoral Council can and usually does allow the media to report the results earlier. Sunday night’s results are likely to come out sooner than May 14, given the relative simplicity of the ballot.
Read also: Kilicdaroglu is suing Erdogan and demanding 1 million Turkish liras from him for making a clip in which he is associated with the PKK
Editor: Marco Badea
Leave a Reply