ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ruled his country for 20 years with an increasingly tight grip, was locked in a tight election race early Monday, with the finalists facing off against his main challenger. Make-break runoff was possible. Votes were counted.
Turkish presidential election main campaign issues
The main campaign issues revolved around the deadly February 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake, which left over 50,000 people dead and threatened to postpone the election date. The government was criticised for its slow response to the earthquake and land amnesties prior to it that critics claimed left buildings more vulnerable. The economy, which has suffered a near-continuous crisis since 2018, also featured prominently due to the rapidly rising cost of living. In most polls, voters identified the economy as their prime area of concern.
The results, whether they come within days or after a second round of voting in two weeks, will determine whether the NATO ally that spans Europe and Asia but borders Syria and Iran remains under Erdogan’s control or is pushed by him. The main rival, leader of the opposition Kemal Kilikdaroglu, resumes the promised more democratic path.
Turkish Presidential 2018 elections
The previous Turkish general election took place on 24 June 2018. The election marked the country’s transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, as narrowly endorsed by voters in the controversial 2017 constitutional referendum. That election resulted in a victory for incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had held the position since 2014. Meanwhile, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its absolute majority in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey for the first time since June 2015, forcing it to rely on its coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of Devlet Bahçeli, to pass legislation
Turkish presidential election Date
The regularly scheduled date for the first round of the elections was set for 18 June 2023. However, the electoral system allowed for moving the date forward. In 2020, there was speculation about a snap election prior to the regular one in 2023. At the time, Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of coalition partner MHP, ruled them out. In a written statement, he said that elections would not be held before 2023. He also confirmed that the current coalition between AKP and MHP will remain intact and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be their joint nominee for President.
In the case of 2nd rounded presidential election:
- 15 May: Start of election campaigning for the second round of the presidential election.
- 20 May: Start of voting procedures at customs gates and abroad.
- 24 May: Deadline for voting abroad.
- 27 May: End of election campaigning and the start of election silence at 18:00.
- 28 May: Voting day. The second round of the presidential election.
- 29 May: Announcement of the temporary results of the presidential election.
- 1 June: Announcement of the final results of the presidential election.
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Speaking to supporters in Ankara, Erdogan, 69, said he could still win but would respect the country’s decision if the race restarts in two weeks.
Erdogan said early Monday, “We do not yet know whether the elections have ended in the first round. … If our country has chosen for the second round, that is also welcome.” be counted. He secured 60% foreign votes in 2018.