Erdoğan holds big cities but forced in runoff while voters in quake-hit areas unable to cast their ballot
Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu will face off in a second round on 28 May. Despite losses, the ruling coalition holds on to a parliamentary majority. The president hangs onto power thanks to self-interest and clientelism. Up to a million voters may have been unable to vote in areas hit in last February’s earthquake.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of thousands, perhaps up to a million voters in the areas struck by the devastating earthquake on 6 February may not have been able to take part in yesterday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, this according to a diplomatic source that spoke to AsiaNews.
This is a considerable number of voters, especially since many of them have not shied away from expressing their dissatisfaction, if not outright anger at the government and the officials in charge of the earthquake emergency.
“Some have said that it was impossible to guarantee security but the fact remains that both displaced people who abandoned their homes, and those who remained amid precarious conditions could not vote,” like in Antakya (Antioch), ground zero for the quake.
Pending official results, the first round is one of great uncertainty with a runoff on 28 May. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a small lead, and will try to prove wrong recent predictions that expected his 20-year reign to end.
The challenger, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has accused the government of fraud, is ready to continue his struggle, convinced that he can end Erdoğan’s rule.
The strong turnout should be replicated two weeks from now. In the region and beyond, current alliances and power relations are at stake, under the interested gaze of the European Union, NATO, Russia, the United States, Syria and Iran to name just a few.
Regarding the outcome, our source wants to wait for "the final outcome because last-minute surprises are not excluded". However, the fact remains that Erdoğan "held", given that according to some forecasts "he was expected to drop well below 50 per cent".
“The situation is "fluid and confusing" but voting was "fairly correct", with a "participation of more than 90 per cent".
"A runoff was expected, but not with this result. Especially in recent weeks, the opposition was making great progress. But Erdoğan has held his ground in large cities like Istanbul and Ankara, where the opposition performed less well than expected."
The outcome “can be read many ways, starting with voters trying to satisfy short term, personal interests, in areas where people are tied to Erdoğan by clientelist relations.”
“I can myself testify to this. A Syrian Kurdish refugee, from Afrin, a convert to Christianity from Islam, hopes for the president’s victory because he is terrified at the opposition that could accelerate repatriations. There are many elements at stake in a place where self-interest dominates."
With 99.37 per cent of the ballots counted, Supreme Election Council chairman Ahmet Yener announced that Erdoğan won 49.4 per cent of the vote, less than the 56 per cent announced in early partial results.
The candidate of the "Table of Six", Kılıçdaroğlu, is at 44.96 per cent of the vote, followed by Sinan Oğan at 5.2 per cent, and Muharrem İnce at 0.44 per cent.
The Istanbul Stock Exchange open down with the BIST Index losing 6.6 per cent, dropping to 4,502 points.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan has already claimed victory in the 600-seat parliament for the government alliance, formed by the AKP and smaller nationalist and radical Islamic parties.
His main rival, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu, is getting ready for the runoff at the end of the month, convinced that he can still emerge victorious to finally bring "democracy to this country". Referring to a celebratory address Erdoğan delivered to his supporters from his party’s headquarters, “The election is not won on the balcony,” he said.
The final results should be announced at 3 pm local time, but even in this case nothing is certain since ballots from abroad have not yet been fully counted.
The government coalition appears to have the upper hand in the parliamentary election, as Erdoğan asserted. Preliminary results give the ruling AKP 266 seats, down from 296, while the CHP should pick up 166.
In the president’s entourage there is great confidence, with aides certain in his re-election because his main ally, the nationalist MHP, held, winning 10 per cent of the vote and 50 seats (down 1 per cent). The third presidential candidate Sinan Oğan, scored well in central Anatolia.