Turkish people cast their ballot to determine their future president and the parliamentary members on May 14 at a head to head race between election alliances which is considered to be the biggest challenge of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his 21 years of rule with the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The preliminary results on the Turkish presidential elections indicate a runoff votes as the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP and its People Alliance secured the parliamentary majority.
In a public speeches early morning hours on May 15, the presidential contestants President Erdoğan, CHP leader and opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Sinan Oğan stated that none of the candidates likely to secure 50 percent of the votes to get the presidential seat.
According to the election law, if none of the candidates can receive 50 percent of the votes, the president is determined in the second round where the two candidates compete to have the majority of the votes.
According to the preliminary results, Erdoğan received 49 percent, Kılıçdaroğlu received 45 percent Sinan Oğan received 5 percent of the votes.
The voter turnout is around 86 percent, which is the highest percentage since the 1987 elections.
Ruling alliance got the parliamentary majority
According to the preliminary results of the state-run Anadolu Agency with the 99 percent of the ballot boxes opened, the votes are reported as following amid objections to the results.
- AKP: 35,4 percent
- CHP: 25,3 percent
- MHP: 10 percent
- İYİ P: 9 percent
- YSP: 8,77 percent
With these votes the ruling alliance has taken the 322 seats in the parliament, where six-party opposition Nation alliance got 212 seats.
The Kurdish-issue focused HDP and Turkish Labor Party (TİP) alliance receives 66 seats in the parliament.
The other two alliances received almost 2,5 percent of the votes but did not have any seats.
Erdoğan: “We are far ahead”
President Erdoğan addressed the AKP followers in front of the headquarters in Ankara, stating that they are “far ahead in the election”
“Today, we know that we are by far ahead in the election, but we are waiting for the manifestation of the national will, as we have not yet officially received the exact proportions of the result. While we are waiting for the result, we thought we should make our traditional balcony speech in advance to reciprocate your love here,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu: “Erdoğan did not get what he wanted”
Speaking with the leaders of the Nation Alliance at the CHP headquarters just after Erdoğan’s famous “balcony speech,” Kılıçdaroğlu said that the president “did not get the result he wanted.”
“Nobody would be so willing for fait acompli. The election cannot be won at the balcony,” he said, underlying that the results are not in yet.
“If our nation says there will be a second round, we will gladly accept that. We will definitely win this election in the second round. Everyone will see this. Erdoğan has not received the expected vote of confidence from the society. The demand for change is over 50 percent,” he added.
As the polls are closed at 17:00, political parties and press agencies started to publish the preliminary results, with a sharp difference between agencies, stirring the growing debate over the veracity of the state-run Anadolu Agency’s official data.
As the state-run AA opened the results with sweeping advantage of Erdoğan, CHP officials criticized the agency arguing that they are “manipulating the public opinion.”
CHP officials argue that the state-run agency deliberately witheld information as significant number of ballot box information was not obtained.
Opposition argued that even though the agency reported that they obtained 90 percent of the votes, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) alliance’s officials actively object the ballot boxes where the opposition alliance’s votes are higher, preventing the information to be released.
At 1:00 AM speech, Kılıçdaroğlu said that the ruling alliance is actively blocking the voting period by objecting the ballot boxes at a critical election of the country.
“They are blocking the system with one objection after another in polling stations where our votes are high. For example: There are persistent objections in 300 ballot boxes in Ankara and 783 ballot boxes in Istanbul,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on May 15 at a press conference at CHP headquarters.
“There are ballot boxes that are objected 6 times, 11 times,” he added saying “It is the will of Turkey that is blocked. We will never allow this to be a fait accompli. Stop staging public opinion manipulation. This issue is serious. Let the votes come in, let the resutls be known as soon as possible.”
Just minutes before Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement, the opposition’s vice presidency candidates Mansur Yavaş and Ekrem İmamoğlu were before journalists stating that the CHP got hold of only 69 percent of the votes, equal to 42 million of the 60 million registered voters.
“Only in Ankara we haven’t received official ballot box document in 4 thousand boxes, in Antalya thousand documents are missing. In Diyarbakır, we have seen footage where the voting sacks haven’t been submitted yet” he said stating that the party can only receive information from the boxes which are not contested by the ruling alliance.
“We don’t know how AA receives this information,” Yavaş said, adding “Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu previously requested to collect voting information by police force. We don’t know how he could do that. Because of that, we have a reason not to trust the results.”
Likely to get into second round
Yavaş said taht in the 69 percent of the ballot boxes opened, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received 47,7 percent, Erdoğan 45,8 percent of the votes.
“Our chair (Kılıçdaroğlu) will most probably complete this round as the first runner up. The probability of second round is high,” he said.
In previous statment CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu posted a message on his official Twitter account with a word “we are ahead”
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) May 14, 2023
Polls closed at 17:00
As of 17:00 (GMT+2) the official voting period ended for some 60 million registered voters all around the country, in a rather uneventful day besides a few instances.
The abroad votes of 1,7 million voters are already in the country waiting to be counted, while with the end of the voting period, the ballots from 191 thousand boxes will be counted by ballot box committees and submitted to the authorities with critical “signed documents.”
The counting period of votes is expected to be finished mid-night, however the official results will be announced by the YSK after all signed documents will be collected and counted.
Voter turnout in Türkiye is usually high. In the last elections 83 percent of the voters casted their votes. In these critical elections, it is expected to be even higher.
In order to ensure earthquake victims’ voting procedure to be completed, the government formed portative voting stations in the cities. Some civil initiatives organized transportation for those who have migrated to other cities, in order to facilitate people to vote.
With the government’s “portable ballot box” scheme, some boxes were carried to elderly people or voters with disabilities.
Current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is running against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and nationalist candidate Sinan Oğan for the presidential seat.
Recent polls indicate 49 percent votes for Kılıçdaroğlu and 45 to 47 percent votes for Erdoğan, with a slight possibility that the opposition’s candidate might get the presidential seat at the first round of the elections by securing more than 50 percent of the votes.
The race has started with four candidates Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdoğan, Oğan and Muharrem İnce however the latter has withdrawn from the elections quoting “unbearable smearing campaigns,” further boosting Kılıçdaroğlu’s chances to win at the first round.
Six opposition parties have formed a wide alliance to unseat Erdoğan under the “Nation Alliance.” İYİ Party, Democrat Party, Future Party, Felicity Party, DEVA Party joined CHP with a claim to change the current “Presidential Government System,” arguing that the regime brought by AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with a referendum has deteriorated democratic regime in Türkiye, further transformed it into a “one man regime.”
The critical election that will determine the country’s political trajectory is often quoted as a “referendum” between democracy and authoritarian rule of Erdoğan by the opposition while the ruling alliance accuses the opposition of weakening Türkiye’s “stability and strength.”
Apart from the presidential race, the parliamentary elections are also important as the opposition is promising to bring a constitutional change to shift from “Presidential System” to a “Strengthened Parliamentary Democracy.”
In order to achieve this goal, the opposition has to gain the basic majority in the parliament which is a big challenge as AKP’s “People Alliance” still collects the most of the parliamentary seats with the D-Hondt electoral system.
In order to curb the recent amendments in the law and People Alliance’s advantages throughout Türkish cities, the opposition formed strategic alliances in cities.
For example in several cities İYİ Party has not nominated a parliamentary candidate under its own banner but listed them under CHP’s banner in order to get as many votes as possible to guarantee a seat from that city.
That was also the case for the Labor and Freedom Alliance which united Kurdish-issue focused HDP and socialist and left political parties, where in some cases they entered under alliance, in some under their own political party’s banners.
The polls still show a neck and neck result with a higher chance that none of the alliances secure the basic parliamentary majority to be able to change the constitution, or pass a law.
Kingmakers: Kurdish votes, Gen-Z
Two very important factors will be a determinant in the country’s future: one is the votes of the Kurdish population and other one is the first time voters.
HDP is entering the election under the Green and Left Party because they are facing a closure case at the constitutional court. The party has formed an alliance with socialist left all around 13 percent of the general votes.
HDP and Labor and Freedom Alliance have openly vouched for Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy. And their seats in the parliament will boost the opposition’s chances against the People Alliance.
In addition, in this election some 4 million people between 18 to 22 years of age will vote for the first time. Their inclinations will definitely have a say in the presidency and parliament.
Earthquake and economy
This election is held under dire economic conditions as high inflation has deteriorated Turkish people’s living standards drastically.
In addition to this, in February the country experienced one of the most devastating earthquakes of its history.
In 11 cities that were home to 13 million people, more than 50 thousand people lost their lives, hundred thousands injured, millions lost their homes.
It is important for the migrated electorates from the earthquake-stricken cities to be able to vote in their constituencies to be able to have a say in the election.