Election council: Erdoğan has won 49.4% of votes

With just over 99% of ballot boxes opened, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has received 49.4% of votes in the country’s presidential election, the head of the country’s election council has said.

Reuters is quoting Ahmet Yener as saying on Monday that Erdoğan’s rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had scored 44.96% and the third-placed candidate, ultranationalist and potential kingmaker Sinan Ogan 5.2% of the vote.

The near-complete results strongly suggest the election will go to a runoff on 28 May since neither of the two leading candidates received more than 50% of the vote.

Key events

We’re going to pause this blog now. Here’s a brief summary of where things stand as we await official confirmation of the result:

  • With nearly 99.5% of ballot boxes opened, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has received 49.4% of votes his rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 44.96%, Turkey’s elections council YSK has said.

  • The near-complete results mean the election will almost certainly go to a runoff, scheduled for 28 May, since neither of the two leading candidates received more than 50% of the vote.

  • Analysts have said it could be difficult for Kılıçdaroğlu to claw back Erdoğan’s five-point lead in the fortnight before the second round on 28 May, with the president likely to ride his stronger than forecast performance, surprise win in parliament and incumbency advantages to victory

  • Speaking early on Monday, Erdoğan said he would accept a runoff, and accused unnamed others of trying to “deceive the nation” by claiming they were ahead.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu said he too would accept a runoff, and would win it, saying: “Despite all of his lies and attacks, Erdoğan did not receive the desired outcome.”

  • The third candidate in the race, ultranationalist Sinan Oğan, emerged as a potential kingmaker with just over 5% of the vote.

  • Preliminary results from the parallel parliamentary elections showed Erdoğan’s governing coalition had secured 49.38% of the overall vote, while the opposition coalition has 35.16%, with potentially a further 10 percentage points if adding votes from the Kurdish-majority Peoples’ Democratic party or HDP (which ran under the Green Left party) and other socialist parties.

Faisal Ali

Here’s a a bit of a breakdown of some of the data from the presidential race. With more than 99% of ballot boxes opened, we know Recep Tayyip Erdoğan got 49.4% of the vote in the first round and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu got 44.95%. A run-off is all but guaranteed, and many analysts think Erdoğan will win.

Kılıçdaroğlu outperformed Erdoğan in around 30 constituencies in the presidential election, primarily those in areas where the opposition candidate’s CHP party already enjoys significant popularity, such as the more liberal Aegean coast, the southern regions of the country, and Turkish Thrace in the far west.

Notably, Kılıçdaroğlu garnered a substantial share of the vote in southeast Turkey, which comprises provinces with a predominantly Kurdish population and where the left-wing Yesil Sol party secured the majority of parliamentary seats. His message definitely resonated very strongly with Kurdish voters.

Though the Kurdish vote was touted as the determining factor in this election – and the results do suggest it remains a crucial part of Kılıçdaroğlu’s electoral coalition – the opposition alliance will still need to gain more voters on the Turkish right to get Kılıçdaroğlu over 50% in a second round.

Excluding the country’s three largest cities of Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, however, Erdoğan appears to have got a consistently larger share than Kılıçdaroğlu throughout Anatolia in a total of 51 provinces, including the cities of Bursa and Konya (where he would have expected to win).

Some of these victories have been decisive and Kahramanmaras province, which was badly hit by an earthquake earlier this year, is an indicator of that, delivering Erdoğan 70% in contrast to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 22%. Many of the leads Erdoğan gained in Anatolia appear to be quite sizeable victories, with Kılıçdaroğlu rarely getting over 30% of the vote in almost 19 of those constituencies.

Here is a visual aid provided by Anadolu Agency. The red areas were won by Kılıçdaroğlu and the orange constituencies are Erdoğan’s:

AA map showing Turkey’s presidential election outcome.
The graphic by AA shows how the chips fell in this election in Turkey. Photograph: Anadolu Agency

The Turkish lira is on a two-month low, its sovereign dollar bonds have tumbled and the cost of insuring exposure to the country’s debt has climbed sharply as investors digest a presidential election apparently headed for a runoff with the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the lead.

Reuters reports that Turkish bank shares were also hit hard, with the country’s main banking index falling by more than 8%.
The lira was at 19.65 to the dollar on Monday morning, its weakest since a record low of 19.80 in March.

The Istanbul stock exchange was trading more than 2% lower, after an earlier 6.38% drop. Economists blame Erdogan for plunging the country into economic crisis, with inflation hitting 85% last year and the lira losing 80% of its value against the dollar in five years.

“This is a major disappointment to investors hoping for a win for opposition candidate Kılıçdaroğlu and the reversion to orthodox economic policy he promised,” said Hasnain Malik, one analyst.

Here is Reuters’ latest take on where things stand:

President Tayyip Erdoğan led comfortably in the first round of Turkey’s election on Monday, with his rival facing an uphill struggle to prevent him extending his rule into a third decade in a runoff vote on 28 May.

Turkish assets weakened on the news, which showed Erdoğan just below the 50% threshold needed to avoid sending the Nato country to a second round of a presidential election viewed as passing judgment on his autocratic rule.

Pro-government media cheered the outcome, with the Yeni Safak newspaper proclaiming “The people won”, referring to Erdoğan’s People’s Alliance, which appeared to have won a majority in parliament, potentially giving him a crucial edge in the presidential runoff.

“The winner has undoubtedly been our country,” Erdogan said in a speech to cheering supporters at the headquarters of his ruling Islamist-rooted AK party in the capital, Ankara, overnight.

Going into the election, the opposition had sensed its best chance yet of unseating Erdoğan, encouraged by polls showing him trailing his main challenger, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. But the results suggested Erdoğan and his AK party had been able to rally conservative voters despite a cost-of-living crisis.

Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of a six-party alliance, vowed to prevail in the runoff and accused Erdogan’s party of interfering with the counting and reporting of results, calling on his supporters in the country of 84 million to be patient.

Iran’s foreign ministry has congratulated Turkey on the elections, saying the high turnout and successful organisation were the sign of a healthy democracy.

“The high voter turn-out in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, and the successful holding of the votes, are a sign of victory for democracy in the neighboring and Muslim country,” foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Twitter.

🔽 Iran congratulates Turkey over presidential, parliamentary votes

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani has reacted to the high electoral participation rates in Turkey’s election, describing it as a victory for democracy. pic.twitter.com/NE6a3JZ998

— Iran Foreign Ministry 🇮🇷 (@IRIMFA_EN) May 15, 2023

Election council: Erdoğan has won 49.4% of votes

With just over 99% of ballot boxes opened, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has received 49.4% of votes in the country’s presidential election, the head of the country’s election council has said.

Reuters is quoting Ahmet Yener as saying on Monday that Erdoğan’s rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had scored 44.96% and the third-placed candidate, ultranationalist and potential kingmaker Sinan Ogan 5.2% of the vote.

The near-complete results strongly suggest the election will go to a runoff on 28 May since neither of the two leading candidates received more than 50% of the vote.

In a look at the foreign policy implications of an eventual victory for the opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, concluded they might be more about style than substance:

The distinctions being drawn between the foreign policy of the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and challenger, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, are less a substantial reinterpretation of the Turkish national interest, more about the style, tone and predictability in securing that interest.

But tone matters in diplomacy, and the west would welcome an end to the era of confrontational rhetoric – even if the policy of balancing between east and west remains.

You can read Patrick’s full piece here:

A reminder of what the two leading candidates said in their election addresses overnight:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:

Even though the final results are not in, we are far ahead. We still don’t know the final official results, we are still waiting for the will of the nation to become apparent.

The fact that the election results have not yet been finalised does not diminish the fact that our nation’s choice is clearly in favour of us.

Erdoğan said he believed he would clear the 50% threshold necessary to avoid a runoff, but that if it came to a second round, “we would respect that too”.

Opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu:

Despite all of his lies and attacks, Erdoğan did not receive the desired outcome. No one should be enthusiastic about this being a done deal.

We will definitely, definitely win this election in the second round. Everyone will see it. Preliminary results show Erdoğan did not receive the public confidence vote that he expected.

The need for a change in society exceeds 50%. If the nation opts for a second round, it is more than welcome.

Hello, this is Jon Henley picking up the blog again from my colleague Graham Russell.

As Turkey awaits the official results of a presidential election that looks almost certain to go to a second-round runoff, some international analysts believe Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has the wind in his sails.

His chief rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, underperformed compared with polling expectations: on Friday, two polls projected the united opposition candidate would clear the 50% hurdle needed to avoid a runoff.

Mujtaba Rahman, of Eurasia Group, says the election is Erdoğan’s to lose:

🇹🇷: All momentum now w Erdogan. Has taken Parliament, despite expectations to contrary. Has performed much better in 1st round of Presidential vote than polls predicted. Has incumbency advantages. For these & many other reasons a @kilicdarogluk win on 28 May is now very unlikely

— Mujtaba Rahman (@Mij_Europe) May 15, 2023

Summary

It is nearly 9am on Monday in Ankara and tens of millions of Turkish voters are waking up to a day of political uncertainty after going to the polls the previous day to cast their vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Here is where the vote stands at the moment:

  • A run-off election is looking increasingly likely between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his main rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after neither appeared likely to reach the 50% threshold to win the presidential race outright.

  • The state-owned Anadolu news agency has Erdoğan on 49.24% and Kılıçdaroğlu on 45.06% but there have been discrepancies between the data given out by state media and the Supreme Election Council (YSK), which is overseeing the election.

  • Any second round of voting is likely to take place on 28 May.

  • Speaking in the early hours of Monday, Erdoğan said he believed he had enough votes to win the first round outright but that he would accept a runoff, and accused unnamed others of trying to “deceive the nation” by claiming they were in the lead.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu said he would accept a runoff, and would win it, saying: “Despite all of his lies and attacks, Erdoğan did not receive the desired outcome. No one should be enthusiastic about this being a done deal. The election is not won on the balcony,” he said, in an apparent reference to Erdoğan’s speech venue.

  • The YSK said more than 91% of the vote has been counted, but that there have been long delays in tallying up votes from overseas. The YSK blamed a rise in the number of voters abroad and parties running this year.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu and potential kingmaker Sinan Oğan – who has garnered about 5% of the vote – voiced concern about the pace of the vote count. Kılıçdaroğlu said some counts were being blocked by repeated objections. “Do not block the will of this nation. I call out to our democracy workers on the field. Never leave the ballot boxes and election boards. We are here until every single vote is counted,” he tweeted.

  • Oğan said he had heard of overseas votes being “manipulated”. “Vote counting is not done in a healthy environment. I warn the YSK [the Supreme Election Council], take the necessary measures immediately and ensure that the vote counting processes are carried out quickly. In addition, we will not allow a fait accompli with a manipulation of foreign votes.” He did not provide evidence for his claims.

  • In preliminary results from the parliamentary elections, state news agency Anadolu reported Erdoğan’s governing coalition had secured 49.38% of the overall vote, while the opposition coalition has 35.16%, with potentially a further 10 percentage points if adding votes from the Kurdish-majority Peoples’ Democratic party or HDP (which ran under the Green Left party) and other socialist parties. Anadolu said 96.39% of ballot boxes had been opened, which does not necessarily mean votes counted.

  • The share of the parliamentary vote for Erdoğan’s AKP party has shrunk substantially from prior legislative elections, with the reported result the worst in at least 20 years, when the AKP came to power in 2002.

  • The overall parliamentary result so far suggests a victory for a range of nationalist parties, but a surprise loss for the six-party opposition coalition headed by Kılıçdaroğlu, which had expected to clinch a majority. Kılıçdaroğlu had pledged to restore a parliamentary democracy system – rather than Erdoğan’s presidential one – if successful.

  • The lira fell against the euro as investors voiced disappointment that Erdogan’s era of unconventional economics does not appear to be coming to an immediate end.

In the early hours of Monday, presidential rivals Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu spoke to their supporters, and both backed the idea of a runoff vote if needed.

Turkey elections: Erdoğan sings to supporters as Kılıçdaroğlu attacks ‘smear campaign’– video

Turkey’s lira slipped to a fresh two-month low as the presidential election looked set to head to a runoff

The currency weakened to 19.70 to the dollar before retracing some of its losses to 19.66, on track for its worst session since early November and not far off the 19.80 level it hit in early March following deadly earthquakes in February.

The lira, which is prone to sharp swings before regular trading hours, has weakened 5% since the start of the year, Reuters reported. The currency has lost almost 95% of its value over the last decade-and-a-half as sugar-rush economic policies have led to spectacular boom and bust cycles, bouts of inflation and currency market turmoil.

John Plassard, an investment specialist at Mirabaud Group, said Turkish markets should remain highly volatile, regardless of who wins the elections. The economic policies that have undermined the lira will continue if Erdoğan remains in power, he said.

However, a change of government could put pressure on the currency before any new economic frameworks takes effect, he said.

So who is Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the opposition leader who is seeking to unseat Recep Tayyip Erdoğan? Ruth Michaelson and Deniz Barış Narlı took a look. He is a former civil servant and ex-accountant who leads a “humble life like yours”, he told a rally ahead of the election.

Now he heads a six-party opposition coalition, and has worked to garner support from the marginalised Kurdish community, becoming the face of the opposition’s strongest chance to unseat Erdoğan in a generation, whose popularity has dipped amid rampant inflation and a deepening cost of living crisis.

Other than promises of a socially democratic new dawn, the policies that Kılıçdaroğlu has been most vocal about include pledging to deport millions of Syrian and Afghan refugees living in Turkey. Asked how he intended to square this promise with a desire for Turkey to join the European Union, Kılıçdaroğlu claimed he could draw on the EU or even the United Nations for support.

Should he become president, one of Kılıçdaroğlu’s largest challenges would be inheriting Erdoğan’s careful balancing act to maintain ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, and a camaraderie with the Russian president that few other leaders can claim.

Summary

It is 6.30am in Ankara. Here is where the presidential and parliamentary elections stand at the moment.

  • A run-off election is looking increasingly likely between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his main rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after neither appeared likely to reach the 50% threshold to win outright.

  • The state-owned Anadolu news agency has Erdoğan on 49.25% and Kılıçdaroğlu on 45.05% but there have been discrepancies between the data given out by state media and the Supreme Election Council (YSK).

  • Any second round of voting is likely to take place on 28 May.

  • Speaking in the early hours of Monday, Erdoğan said he believed he had enough votes to win outright but said he would accept a runoff, and accused unnamed others of trying to “deceive the nation” by claiming they were in the lead.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu said he would accept a runoff, and would win it, saying: “Despite all of his lies and attacks, Erdoğan did not receive the desired outcome. No one should be enthusiastic about this being a done deal. The election is not won on the balcony,” he said, referring to Erdoğan’s speech venue.

  • The YSK said more than 91% of the vote has been counted, but that there have been long delays in tallying up those that are being counted abroad. The YSK blamed a rise in the number of overseas voters and parties running this year.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu and potential kingmaker Sinan Oğan have voiced concern about the pace of the vote count. Kılıçdaroğlu said some counts were being blocked by repeated objections. “Do not block the will of this nation. I call out to our democracy workers on the field. Never leave the ballot boxes and election boards. We are here until every single vote is counted,” he tweeted.

  • Oğan said he had heard of overseas votes being “manipulated”. “Vote counting is not done in a healthy environment. I warn the YSK [the Supreme Election Council]. Take the necessary measures immediately and ensure that the vote counting processes are carried out quickly. In addition, we will not allow a fait accompli with a manipulation of foreign votes.”

  • In the parliamentary elections, state news agency Anadolu reported Erdoğan’s governing coalition had secured 49.38% of the overall vote, while the opposition coalition has 35.16%, with potentially another 10 percentage points if adding votes from the Kurdish-majority Peoples’ Democratic party or HDP (which ran under the Green Left party) and other socialist parties.

  • The share of the parliamentary vote for Erdoğan’s AKP party has shrunk substantially from prior legislative elections, with the preliminary result the worst in at least 20 years, when the AKP first came to power in 2002.

  • Anadolu said 96.39% of ballot boxes had been opened, which does not necessarily mean votes counted. The overall result so far suggests a victory for a range of nationalist parties, but a surprise loss for the six-party opposition coalition, which had expected to clinch a majority.

  • The lira fell against the euro as investors voiced disappointment that Erdogan’s era of unconventional economics does not appear to be coming to an immediate end.

If the election does end with a runoff in two weeks’ time, Erdoğan may have an advantage, Howard Eissenstat, an associate professor of Middle East history and politics at St Lawrence University in New York, has suggested. Voters would not want a “divided government”, he said, referring to the parliamentary elections also being held the same day.

Preliminary results reported by state news agency Anadolu said Erdoğan’s governing coalition had secured 49.38% of the overall vote, with the opposition coalition on 35.16%, with potentially another 10 percentage points if adding votes from the Kurdish-majority Peoples’ Democratic party or HDP (which ran under the Green Left party) and other socialist parties.

However, the vote share for Erdoğan’s AKP party has shrunk substantially from prior legislative elections, with the preliminary result the worst in at least 20 years, when the AKP first came to power in 2022.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who leads a six-party coalition, had hoped to enact sweeping reforms, overhauling two decades of Erdoğan policies and returning Turkey to parliamentary democracy.

Kılıçdaroğlu is a member of Turkey’s Alevi religious minority and said he intends to step back from Erdoğan’s heavy-handed control of public institutions and the media, promising a more inclusive Turkey and an end to the combative style of politics that Erdoğan is known for. The CHP leader has also promised to deport millions of Syrian and Afghan refugees who sought shelter in Turkey from conflicts at home.

Sunday’s vote also represents a test of Kılıçdaroğlu’s promises of inclusion, in particular whether his outreach to Kurdish voters had been successful. Some Kurdish voters in Istanbul were overjoyed at the prospect that Erdoğan could be voted out, after years of attacks branding their party as an enemy of the state and the jailing of its leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, who has thrown his support behind Kılıçdaroğlu.

The outcome of the presidential election could soon have ramifications on the world stage, particularly in terms of the war in Ukraine. Erdoğan played a crucial role in the grain deal that allowed Kyiv to continue to export its harvests via the Black Sea.

However, Erdoğan also objected to the accession to Nato of Sweden and Finland, later allowing Helsinki to join in return for a promised crackdown on groups seen by Ankara as terrorists, and to free up defence exports.

Turkey has repeatedly said that Sweden needed to take additional steps against supporters of Kurdish militants and members of the network Ankara holds responsible for a 2016 coup attempt. Turkey treats both groups as terrorist organisations.

As we await a definitive result, our Middle East correspondent Bethan McKernan has taken a look at how President Erdoğan has reshaped Turkey in his image over the past 20 years, since becoming prime minister in 2003.

“Four years ago, when ballots in local elections across Turkey were still being counted, municipality workers in Istanbul had already put up billboard posters of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his Justice and Development (AKP) party’s candidate for mayor in the cultural and commercial capital, thanking the city’s residents for their votes.

“The hubris was short-lived. An opposition candidate won, and did even better in a controversial and high-stakes re-run – a moment that in retrospect many hoped would mark the beginning of the end of the political powerhouse’s long career.”

Summary

It is approaching 5am in Ankara. Here is where the presidential and parliamentary elections stand at the moment.

  • A run-off election is looking increasingly likely between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his main rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after neither appeared likely to reach the 50% threshold to win outright.

  • The state-owned Anadolu news agency has Erdoğan on 49.25% and Kılıçdaroğlu on 45.05% but there have been discrepancies between the data given out by state media and the Supreme Election Council (YSK).

  • Any second round of voting is likely to take place on 28 May.

  • Speaking in the early hours of Monday, Erdoğan said he believed he had enough votes to win outright but said he would accept a runoff, and accused unnamed others of trying to “deceive the nation” by claiming they were in the lead.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu said he would accept a runoff, and would win it, saying: “Despite all of his lies and attacks, Erdoğan did not receive the desired outcome. No one should be enthusiastic about this being a done deal. The election is not won on the balcony,” he said, referring to Erdoğan’s speech venue.

  • The YSK said more than 91% of the vote has been counted, but that there have been long delays in tallying up those that are being counted abroad. The YSK blamed a rise in the number of overseas voters and parties running this year.

  • Kılıçdaroğlu and potential kingmaker Sinan Oğan have voiced concern about the pace of the vote count. Kılıçdaroğlu said some counts were being blocked by repeated objections. “Do not block the will of this nation. I call out to our democracy workers on the field. Never leave the ballot boxes and election boards. We are here until every single vote is counted,” he tweeted.

  • Oğan said he had heard of overseas votes being “manipulated”. “Vote counting is not done in a healthy environment. I warn the YSK [the Supreme Election Council]. Take the necessary measures immediately and ensure that the vote counting processes are carried out quickly. In addition, we will not allow a fait accompli with a manipulation of foreign votes.”

  • In the parliamentary elections, state news agency Anadolu reported Erdoğan’s governing coalition had secured 49.38% of the overall vote, while the opposition coalition has 35.16%, with potentially another 10 percentage points if adding votes from the Kurdish-majority Peoples’ Democratic party or HDP (which ran under the Green Left party) and other socialist parties.

  • The share of the parliamentary vote for Erdoğan’s AKP party has shrunk substantially from prior legislative elections, with the preliminary result the worst in at least 20 years, when the AKP first came to power in 2022.

  • Anadolu said 96.39% of ballot boxes had been opened, which does not necessarily mean votes counted. The overall result so far suggests a victory for a range of nationalist parties, but a surprise loss for the six-party opposition coalition, which had expected to clinch a majority.

  • The lira fell against the euro as investors voiced disappointment that Erdogan’s era of unconventional economics does not appear to be coming to an immediate end.

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