Results of hard fought election that could topple Turkeys President Erdogan

Results of hard-fought election that could topple Turkey’s President Erdogan begin to pour in – CNN

(CNN) – First results of Turkey’s parliamentary elections were released on Sunday after the country’s Supreme Electoral Council lifted reporting restrictions.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was ahead of his rivals with 21.33% of the votes counted. However, the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the initial data was positive and that it would start releasing figures once the proportion of votes counted was higher.

State-run Anadolu News Agency reported initial projections that Erdogan received 55.03% of the vote, compared to 39% for main opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

According to Anadolu, Sinan Ogan received 5.40% of the votes.

Almost three hours after polling stations across the country closed, votes are still being counted.

The hard-fought presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday could spell the end of Erdogan’s 20-year rule.

The race represents Turkey’s toughest challenge yet for the strong leader. He faces economic headwinds and criticism that the effects of the devastating February 6 earthquake were compounded by lax construction controls and chaotic rescue efforts.

For the first time, Turkey’s partisan opposition has coalesced around a single candidate, Kilicdaroglu, representing an electoral coalition of six opposition parties.

To be elected, a candidate must win more than 50% of the vote on Sunday night. Otherwise Turkey faces a runoff election on May 28th.

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Voters stand in line at a polling station in Istanbul, Turkey, May 14, 2023.

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Election officials prepare the ballot papers at a polling station in a polling station in Istanbul.

At a polling station in Istanbul’s Beyogly district, 46-year-old voter Korhan Futaci told CNN, “My vote is for freedom. My vote is for the future of our children. I am hopefull.”

Yeliz Sahin, 46, whose brother and son died in the earthquake, said: “It is a historic moment that we have been waiting for 20 years. This whole system needs to change.”

Meanwhile, first-time voter Eren Uzmele, 19, said: “The future of the country is in our hands. It is in the hands of youth.”

Kilicdaroglu, a mild-mannered 74-year-old former bureaucrat, has promised to fix Turkey’s flagging economy and restore democratic institutions marred by the slide into authoritarianism during Erdogan’s tenure.

After casting his vote in Istanbul, Erdogan told reporters: “We pray to God for a better future for our country, our nation and Turkish democracy.” It is very important that all our voters cast their ballots by 5 p.m Having to worry to demonstrate the strength of Turkish democracy.”

Meanwhile, after the vote in Ankara, Kilicdaroglu said: “We all missed the democracy, togetherness and acceptance of so many things.” Hopefully from now on you will see that spring is coming to this country too and it will always be like that. ”

Erdogan ended his election campaign on Saturday night with a prayer at Hagia Sophia – a mosque and important historical site in Istanbul. In contrast, Kilicdaroglu visited the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and a staunch secularist.

Erdogan has extolled the virtues of his long rule, campaigned on a platform of stability and independent foreign policy, and continued to strengthen Turkey’s defense industry. He recently increased government employees’ wages by 45% and lowered the retirement age.

In the past two years, Turkey’s currency has plummeted and prices have soared, leading to a cost-of-living crisis that has weakened Erdogan’s conservative working-class supporters.

When a severe earthquake devastated large parts of southeastern Turkey on February 6, Erdogan struggled with political aftershocks. His critics chided him for a botched bailout and lax building controls that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) ran for two decades.

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A view of blank ballot papers at a polling station in Ankara.

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A woman votes at a polling station in Istanbul.

In the weeks following the quake, the government arrested dozens of contractors, building inspectors and project managers for violating building codes. Critics dismissed the move as a scapegoat.

The government has also apologized for “mistakes” made in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

The quake claimed over 51,000 lives in Turkey and neighboring Syria. Thousands are still missing and there are no marked graves in the southeastern Turkish countryside.

On Thursday, Kilicdaroglu received an additional boost from the late withdrawal of a supporting candidate, Muharrem Ince. Ince had low ratings, but some in the opposition feared he would split the anti-Erdogan voice.

Elections are held in Turkey every five years. More than 1.8 million expatriate voters had already cast their ballots as of April 17, Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing the country’s deputy foreign minister. Over 65 million Turks are entitled to vote.

Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) Chairman Ahmet Yener said last month that at least a million voters in earthquake-affected areas are expected to remain absent this year due to displacement.