Turkey’s presidential election appears to be moving toward another round of voting after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to amass 50% of the votes against his opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Erdogan fell short of a slight majority to continue his 20-year rule of the NATO-member country.
As per the rule, an election candidate should gather more than 50% of the votes to prevent a second round of voting. But, neither Erdogan nor Kilicdaroglu succeeded in going beyond the mark of 50%.
This election will also decide the leader of the Turks who will opt amongst going on the secular and democratic path or carrying forward the so-called authoritarian regime. It will also decide whether the prices of essential items will come down or not.
As per reports from the government-owned news agency Anadolu, the total counted votes stood at 97.95%, with Erdogan gaining 49.34% and his opponent receiving a hairline majority of votes at 49.99%. This might have increased the palpitations of Erdogn’s AK Party. Then emerged Sinan Ogan, the third candidate receiving 5.28% votes, disturbing the whole election results. His stance might make him the key player in who will become the president of Turkey.
Kilicdaroglu addressed his supporters that he would move to the second round and wield his victory in the runoff. He has accused Erdogan of manipulating the counting results.
Erdogan responded that he is ahead of his opponent with 2.6 million votes, which is expected to increase further. His performance has left behind the figures of pre-election polls, making him confident while addressing his party supporters.
This is the first time in two decades that they came together to defeat a single candidate, Erdogan. Kilicdaroglu commands a coalition of six opposition parties in this election. The counting is keenly observed globally, with special attention from the Kremlin and Europe.
This NATO member has the second-largest army in the alliance. Ironically, they have recently improved their relations with the NATO rival, Russia. It had an arms deal with the Kremlin in 2019.
This has garnered Erdogan ample surveillance from the Western powers amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has turned into a migraine for them in expanding themselves by welcoming Finland and Sweden to the alliance.
The pre-election polls had shown Kilicdaroglu heading a six-party coalition, with a slight lead pushing him above the required 50% benchmark.
But the countings showed an extremely polarised vote bank. It gave Erdogan’s party tough competition, ultimately leading to the second election.
The hyperinflation grappled economy, with 85 million citizens to feed, will counter two weeks of absolute uncertainty, which could have a drastic impact on the markets. Analysts expect a highly volatile stock market, the BIST 100, and the domestic currency, Turkish Lira.
Hakan Akbas, managing director of a consultancy, Strategic Advisory Services, said that in Turkish history, this is going to be the longest two weeks which will witness a lot of events. He expects a major crash in the Istanbul stock exchange and massive oscillations in the currency.
Kilicdaroglu has said that the Erdogan-led AK Party is “destroying the will of Turkey” by opposing the counting of more than 1,000 ballot boxes.
His party has also been accused of delaying the full results by constantly objecting to the counting process, and that too when the government authorities have been announcing results in a manner to falsely boost Erdogan’s votes.
This presidential election will send waves in the neighbourhood and up to the White House and Kremlin. It is going to be one of the most momentous political results in the past century.
Erdogan’s international policies have made Turkey a global player on various fronts. The NATO member has built massive infrastructure like airports, highways, and bridges and also developed its arms industry with the help of foreign nations.
The victory of Erdogan will send good news to one of its close allies, President Vladimir Putin, but will cause unease in the Biden administration. It will also distress its neighbours, the Europeans and some Middle Eastern leaders who have unsettled relations with Erdogan.