Turkey's opposition contests thousands of ballots after presidential election

Long-time leader Erdogan to take on Kilicdaroglu again after neither secured 50 per cent of votes in first round

Turkey elections: Run-off vote appears likely

Turkey elections: Run-off vote appears likely
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Turkey's main opposition party has filed complaints over alleged irregularities at thousands of ballot boxes in Sunday's elections, it said on Wednesday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who performed better than was expected in the elections – is urging voters to support him in a presidential election run-off on May 28 to maintain stability in the country, as he tries to extend his rule into a third decade.

With 49.5 per cent of the vote on Sunday, he fell just short of the required majority to win the election in the first round and avoid a run-off.

His main opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is backed by a six-party opposition alliance and leads the Republican People's Party (CHP), received 45 per cent.

The CHP claimed on Wednesday that it had established that there were irregularities at 2,269 ballot boxes for the presidential election and at 4,825 boxes for the parliamentary election. Muharrem Erkek, a CHP deputy chairman, said the irregularities at each ballot box ranged from a single wrong vote to hundreds of votes.

“We are following every single vote, even if it does not change the overall results,” he said in Ankara. There were 201,807 ballot boxes set up for the election, domestically and abroad, he said.

Turkish financial assets weakened for a second day, particularly government and corporate bonds and banking stocks, as investors bet that Mr Erdogan, 69, would win another five-year term and continue with his unorthodox economic policies.

Turkey elections: Run-off vote appears likely

Turkey elections: Run-off vote appears likely

In a parliamentary election, also on Sunday, the People's Alliance, comprising Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its partners, won 322 of 600 seats in the new legislature, achieving a majority.

He says that voting for him will ensure stability and that Turkey needs harmony between parliament and presidency for functional governance.

“The strong presence of the People's Alliance in parliament also makes us stronger as the government. The harmony between the executive and the legislature would help development of our country,” he told CNN Turk.

A breakdown of the voting tallies showed the AKP came out on top, even in 10 of the 11 provinces hit by February's devastating earthquakes in Turkey, in which more than 50,000 people were killed and millions left homeless.

Mr Kilicdaroglu has sought to put a positive spin on the outcome.

“A message of change emerged from the ballot box. Those who want change in this country are now more than those that don't want it,” Mr Kilicdaroglu said, referring to Mr Erdogan falling short of 50 per cent, in a series of tweets addressed to “dear young people”.

Mr Kilicdaroglu, 74, appealed to young voters with references to the cost-of-living crisis, which in Turkey has been much exacerbated by Mr Erdogan's insistence on cutting interest rates, causing a sharp slide in the lira and soaring inflation.

“You don't have enough money for anything,” he said. “Your joy of life was taken away … you won't get your youth back again. We have 12 days to get out of this dark tunnel.”

Mr Kilicdaroglu has vowed to revive democracy after years of state repression, return to conventional economic policies, empower institutions that lost autonomy under Mr Erdogan and rebuild frayed ties with the West.

In Sunday's presidential vote, nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan came third with 5.2 per cent support. Eyes are now on how his supporters will vote on May 28.

In a possible boost to Mr Erdogan, Mr Ogan told Reuters on Monday that he would endorse Mr Kilicdaroglu in the run-off only if the latter ruled out any concessions to a pro-Kurdish party.

Separately, Mr Ogan told AFP he was open to dialogue but may take a few days to make up his mind about who – if anyone – to endorse.

“A decision will be made after talks with Mr Erdogan and Mr Kilicdaroglu,” he said.

“We may say we don't support either of them.”

Updated: May 17, 2023, 11:32 AM