Turkiye’s presidential election appears to heading to a runoff vote as preliminary results showed neither President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main rival looked to have secured the majority of votes need to win, CNN reports.
State-run Anadolu news agency reported projections based on 97.95% of the votes counted, showing Erdogan having 49.34% of votes, compared to 44.99% for the main opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party headquarters in Ankara, the Turkish president claimed to be ahead in the voting. “We believe we will finish this round with over 50% of the votes,” he said. Erdogan is facing the biggest challenge yet in his two decades in power as he faces economic headwinds and criticism that the impact of the devastating Feb. 6 earthquake was made worse by lax building controls and a shambolic rescue effort.
The main opposition leader welcomed the prospect of a runoff vote. “If our nation says second round, we gladly accept it,” he said in a televised speech at his party’s headquarters early Monday. “We will absolutely win this election in the second round. Everyone will see that.” Kilicdaroglu earlier accused Erdogan’s AK Party of demanding recounts and delaying results in opposition strongholds, including in Ankara and Istanbul.
The third presidential candidate, Sinan Ogan, an ultra-nationalist allied with Erdogan, took to Twitter on Sunday night to cast doubt over overseas votes and warn the election council to prevent “manipulation.” Ogan, who according to preliminary results has about 5% of the vote, could be a kingmaker if the election goes to a runoff. Ogan said a second vote is “quite possible,” and that “Turkish nationalists and Ataturkists are in a key position for this election.”
Earlier on Sunday, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas, who is the vice-presidential candidate for the main opposition Nation Alliance bloc, contested Anadolu’s results, saying the agency is unreliable. He added that the opposition’s data showed Kilicdaroglu as being ahead of Erdogan.
Ballots of the 64 million eligible to vote are still being counted hours after polling stations closed across the country. A candidate must win over 50% of the vote in order to be elected — otherwise, Turkey will head to a run-off on May 28.