The Turks have voted. 61 million citizens of that country were called today to participate in the second round of the presidential elections. The polling stations have closed at 4:00 p.m. (Spanish peninsular time), beginning the counting of the votes. The current president, the Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is the favorite in the polls over the center-left candidate of the opposition alliance, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu. Most of the polls published this past week gave Erdogan a clear victory with between 51.4% and 54% of the vote, after the third-placed candidate in the first round, Sinan Organ, gave him his endorsement. Ahmet Yener, president of the Supreme Electoral Board, has reported that the president has 53.41% of the votes, compared to 46.59% for the opposition candidate and leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Erdogan has appeared in the Uskudar neighborhood, in Istanbul, to claim his victory at the polls. Singing a song for his followers and visibly happy for him, he stated: “We have completed the second round of the presidential elections and I thank those who have gone to the polls for the future of their children.” “Just as we have been loyal to you for twenty years”, continued the leader of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), “we will be so for five more years. This love does not end here, as we said, this blessed path does not end here. The Turkish president also lashed out at his rival: “Bye, bye, bye Kemal.”
This is the first time that the country faces a second round in the presidential elections. If the demoscopic predictions come true, Erdogan will opt for another five more years in the position he has held for 20 years. The president was on the verge of revalidating his mandate in the first round by obtaining 49.52% compared to 44.88 % of votes won by Kiliçdaroglu. Sinan Organ came in third with 5.17%. Despite the fact that the polls show Erdogan the winner, in the first round they all failed to give the opposition candidate much more intention to vote than he finally obtained.
Election day has passed calmly, despite some isolated incidents and complaints of irregularities by the opposition. “The second round of voting is over. So far we have not received any negative information affecting the elections. Requests and complaints about irregularities will be studied,” Yener said in the local media. However, the president of the Social Democratic Party (CHP) in Istanbul, Canan Kaftancioglu, cast suspicion on the recount: “I appeal to the public to follow up on their ballots at each ballot box. Make sure that the votes that come out of the ballot box are the ones that you put in it, ”she assured.
Despite the difficulty of overcoming the result, the opposition has not thrown in the towel. In the brief campaign for the second round, the opposition candidate left behind the positive narrative that he had maintained up to now and reinforced the nationalist and anti-immigration discourse, filling the cities with posters promoting the expulsion of Syrian refugees, blaming them for the high prices. and the lack of jobs. The idea is to attract those who did not go to the polls on May 14 and the voters of the third candidate in support, Sinan Ogan, who, however, opted to support Erdogan.
democracy and freedom
The president, visibly tired, voted at noon in the Usküdar neighborhood, in the Asian part of Istanbul. After casting his vote, Erdogan assured that “no country in the world has participation rates of 90%, but Turkey has almost reached them. I ask my fellow citizens to come and vote tirelessly”, reports France Presse. At practically the same time, the opposition candidate went to his polling station in Ankara. “I encourage citizens to vote so that true democracy and freedom can come to the country; to get rid of an authoritarian government,” Kiliçdaroglu declared after voting.
It is probable that the ultranationalist Turkish vote was divided, although not equally, between the two candidates (there are parties of this tendency that support Erdogan and others that support Kiliçdaroglu), predictably around the secularism-Islamism axis. “I voted for Ogan in the first round, but I would never vote for Erdogan because I am a defender of Atatürk”, a promoter of secularism, a voter explained to this newspaper.
After the first round was held, the European Union urged Turkey to resolve the deficiencies in the electoral process detected by international observers. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe accused Turkey of a bias towards Erdogan in the media coverage of the campaign and some irregularities and democratic restrictions without going so far as to consider them fraud. “The EU attaches the utmost importance to the need for transparent, inclusive and credible elections on equal terms,” the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, and the Enlargement Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi, said in a joint statement.