BIn the presidential elections in Turkey, there are signs of a run-off. The state news agency Anadolu and the independent news agency Anka almost unanimously reported late in the evening that after counting 95 percent of the ballot boxes, incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan was ahead with 49 percent of the votes. His challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu was therefore 44 or 45 percent of the votes.
Kilicdaroglu’s opposition alliance questioned the numbers. “Our people will wake up with the news that Kilicdaroglu is the winner,” said Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who acted as the coalition’s spokesman. Throughout the evening, the opposition had accused the state news agency of manipulating the numbers.
In some opposition strongholds, the publication of results was stopped because the AKP objected and forced a recount. Imamoglu accused Erdogan’s AKP of using the tactic to distort the result and demoralize the opposition’s election observers. However, he no longer ruled out a runoff election late in the evening.
AKP spokesman Ömer Celik accused the opposition of trying to “take the will of the nation hostage”. He continued: “Our President is clearly in the lead, but we do not publish results out of respect for the will of the nation.”
Imamoglu defended the opposition’s actions. You have learned your lessons from the past, he said. It is unfortunate that election night in Turkey “is going like a movie night”. The CHP politician was confident that the opposition alliance would win in the first ballot. He also called on the opposition’s election observers not to be discouraged by the numbers and to continue to monitor the counting completely.
According to the Anadolu Agency, Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads with 49.6 percent. Kilicdaroglu comes to 44.7 percent. The supposed lead of the incumbent is already significantly lower than when the first figures were published. In previous elections, Anadolu had been accused of first selectively publishing figures from AKP strongholds in order to prematurely portray the president as the winner. The final results published later were significantly lower several times. The High Electoral Council has not yet published any figures. The independent news agency Anka saw Erdogan with 49.3 percent ahead of Kilicdaroglu with 45 percent.
“Craziest election in decades”
The various media refer to results from the polling stations, which are signed by the local election committees and photographed and published by election observers. Depending on the medium, different polling stations are taken into account. Only the High Electoral Council announces the final result. The aim of the system is to make electoral fraud more difficult because ultimately all data from all polling stations is accessible and can be compared with the final result.
Meanwhile, the AKP party headquarters in Ankara was evacuated due to an alleged bomb threat. The BBC’s Turkish-language service reported that journalists were asked to leave the building. A spokesman for the party said it was a routine measure. There’s no need to worry.