Voting ended in Turkish Elections: Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu fate is pending at the polls
Polling stations in Türkiye closed on Sunday after witnessing a large influx of voters in an election that appears dangerous for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in power for twenty years.
Voting ended at 05:00 PM (14:00 GMT), with no incidents reported.
Voters cast their ballots in large green envelopes containing a card to choose the Turkish president for the next five years and another to choose the 600 members of Parliament.
Erdoğan, who cast his vote at the polling station in Uskudar, the conservative neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul, expressed his hope for a “good future for the country and for Turkish democracy,” stressing the “enthusiasm of the voters,” especially in the areas affected by the February 6 earthquake that killed 50,000 people.
The outgoing Turkish president, who showed signs of fatigue, did not want to issue any predictions about the outcome of the upcoming elections in the evening.
Prior to that, the main opposition candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, came to cast his vote in Ankara.
“We all miss democracy and we miss standing together and embracing each other,” he said, stressing, “You will see spring returning to this country, God willing, and it will continue forever”.
The competition seems very fierce to choose the country’s 13th president – in the third direct universal suffrage – a century after the founding of the republic, which seems more divided than ever.
Voters divided between the president Erdoğan, 69, who has been in power for twenty years, and his rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 74, who heads a secular social-democratic party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), must give one of them at least 50% of the vote to confirm victory in the first round.
Registered 64 million voters who will also choose members of their parliament throughout this country, which has a population of 85 million, and traditionally witnesses a voter turnout of more than 80%.
The third candidate, Sinan Oğan, made some progress.
In a festive atmosphere on this day, which coincides with Mothers’ Day in Türkiye, voters came to the polling stations in a good atmosphere.
Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) founded originally by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Republic of Türkiye, leads a coalition of six diverse parties from the nationalist right to the liberal center-left.
It also has the support of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is considered the third political force in the country.
During the previous presidential elections that took place in 2018, Erdoğan won the first round after receiving more than 52.5% of the vote.
Therefore, the possibility of organizing a second session on May 28 will constitute a setback for him.
Erdoğan promised to respect the ruling at the polls, which are watched by hundreds of thousands of supporters on both sides.
Erdoğan relied on the strength of the construction sector in particular, pointing to his great achievements that led to the modernization of Türkiye, to highlight his success during the first decade of his assumption of power, as prime minister first.
Nevertheless, the earthquake exposed the corruption of contractors and authorities who issued building permits in defiance of earthquake prevention rules.
In confronting him, Kılıçdaroğlu used the appeasement card, promising to establish a state of law and respect for institutions, which have been damaged during the past ten years due to Erdoğan’s authoritarian tendencies.
Opinion polls revealed that his short and calm speeches, in contrast to Erdoğan’s anger and insults, convinced the majority of 5.2 million young Turks who will vote for the first time.
The elections are taking place amid careful monitoring from abroad of what might constitute a “Turkish spring,” as this country, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), enjoys a unique location between Europe and the Middle East and is a major diplomatic player.
The first official estimates are expected four hours after polls close.