With 98% of the votes counted, the incumbent, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has received 49.4% of the vote, compared to the challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s 44.8%, which means the two front runners will most likely face each other in a runoff election on May 28, Anadolu reported early Monday morning.
Both candidates are expected to push for an endorsement from the spoiler, right-wing candidate Sinan Ogan, who did much better than was expected, with an estimated 5% of the vote, give or take. Ogan’s endorsement could certainly decide the outcome of the second round.
Erdogan’s performance in Sunday’s election was his worst ever and confirmed the view that many Turks have lost their faith in him, especially in his handling of the faltering economy and the catastrophic earthquakes earlier this year in southeastern Tukey. In the 2018 presidential election, Erdogan won 53% of the vote and retook the presidency in the first round, leaving his closest challenger behind with 31%.
Erdogan’s strongest support continues to come from the countryside: farmers, blue-collar workers and religiously conservative voters. His opposition comes from the cities: professionals, intellectuals, academics, and young people.
His opponent in two weeks, Kilicdaroglu, is a former high-ranking civil servant who ran the country’s social security administration, and a little over a decade ago became the leader of Turkey’s largest opposition party. Kilicdaroglu’s campaign offered a clear contrast to the combative Erdogan, focusing on kitchen table issues such as the rising cost of living.
Meanwhile, despite Erdogan’s failure to reach 50% in the first round, his AK Party’s alliance is expected to form a majority in parliament, making it harder for Kilicdaroglu to rule should he win the presidency.