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Turkey elections live: Lira tumbles as runoff confirmed

Turkey elections live: Lira tumbles as runoff confirmed
Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu to face off in two weeks' time in second round
Key Points
Kilicdaroglu: 'We will win in second round'
AKP and MHP have majority in parliament
Erdogan makes surprise appearance in Istanbul

Live Updates

1 year ago

Now the votes have been cast and counted, we’re closing our Turkey elections live blog.

We’ve had readers from all over the world with huge interest in these pivotal polls, thanks for stopping by!

Before we take a two-week blogging break (see you for the runoff on 28 May everyone), MEE’s Turkey bureau chief Ragip Soylu has provided a farewell analysis to take us away:

Turkey’s 14 May presidential election will officially go to a runoff in two weeks’ time, but many believe the likely winner is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He is only 0.5 percent short of the required 50 percent threshold and his main competitor Kemal Kilicdaroglu will struggle to capture votes from the Turkish nationalist citizens who backed breakaway ultra-nationalist opposition candidate Sinan Ogan.

Kilicdaroglu failed to energise his base on Monday, even after releasing a video on Twitter where he is seen saying he’ll be there until the end for his voters and slamming a table.

That table bashing didn’t feel typical Kilicdaroglu. What his voters were actually expecting was to see him on national TV announcing a new wave of campaigns and rallies before facing Erdogan down on 28 May.

Kilicdaroglu made his first move on Sunday night, making a phone call to Ogan to congratulate him and warm him up for future negotiations, hoping to get his endorsement.

However, Ogan has been ambivalent about what he actually wants. Last week, he said he wouldn’t support the opposition if they have anything to do with the pro-Kurdish parties. And then said he wouldn’t want Erdogan to rule any longer.

But it might not be up to him anyway. His voters are mostly former Erdogan backers. They might just go back home.

In any case, this the first presidential election since 2014 in which Erdogan couldn’t get an outright majority in the first round. But he was able to retain a majority at parliament with his nationalist allies in the MHP.

The president rejoiced on Sunday night with his supporters. After a cost of living crisis, the deadliest earthquake in the republic’s history, and being 20 years in power, he still managed to get the support of more than 49 percent of the electorate.

Voters fiercely critiqued him all year but still back him, because they still don’t see a credible alternative to Erdogan that they trust to fight Kurdish armed groups and govern the country in a manner they find befitting.

1 year ago

Turkish voters woke up this morning following an historic nail-biting election that, as of Monday, seems to be going to a runoff. 

Neither the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu crossed the 50 percent threshold needed to win the presidency. 

Erdogan received 49.4 percent of the votes, just short of an outright victory with 99 percent of the votes counted. His main competitor, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), only managed 44.96 percent.  

The headline from the AKP-leaning Sabah newspaper was jubilant: “From the national will, trust in Erdogan!”

“The West’s dirty games or the PKK/HDP international threats of war did nothing,” the daily exclaimed, regarding accusations made by the ruling government that the West was seeking to tilt the election towards the opposition. 

Read more:

Turkish press review: Jubilation at Erdogan victory, as opposition licks its wounds

Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdogan look at early presidential election results displayed on a screen at AK Party headquarters in Istanbul on 14 May (AFP)
Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdogan look at early presidential election results displayed on a screen at AK Party headquarters in Istanbul on 14 May (AFP)

1 year ago

As bleary eyed observers survey the aftermath of Turkey's tense parliamentary and presidential elections, a picture has begun to form of the political wreckage left in its wake.

Predicted breakthroughs for the opposition failed to materialise, while other little-discussed candidates and parties managed to make surprise gains and possibly shape how the second round run-off in the presidential elections could form in the coming weeks.

Although it's perhaps too early to make a full assessment, anxiety over the opposition Nation Alliance's tacit electoral pact with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as well as mounting anger at Syrian refugees appears to have given the nationalist vote a boost.

And despite hopes that a big tent alliance could bring together a bigger voter coalition, the opposition failed to break through and many of the smaller parties predicted votes sank without a trace.

Read more:

Turkey elections: Three winners and three losers

A supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds a poster which reads 'We Love You Chief' outside the AKP headquarters after polls closed (AFP)
A supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds a poster which reads 'We Love You Chief' outside the AKP headquarters after polls closed (AFP)

1 year ago

It’s safe to say one man truly outperformed expectations in Turkey’s presidential vote on Sunday: Sinan Ogan.

The ultranationalist candidate of the Ancestral Alliance, which is a combination of the Victory Party and Justice Party, Ogan got 5.2 percent of the vote, forcing the race into a second round runoff between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kemal Kilicdaroglu on 28 May.

Most polls before the election indicated he’d struggle to surpass three percent.

After the election, results clearly demonstrated that there was no winner in the first round, Ogan confidently said the Nation Alliance opposition coalition “doesn’t know right-wing politics. That’s why they have lost many elections”.

It’s likely that Ogan was assisted by the withdrawal of Muharrem Ince, the Homeland Party candidate that quit over an online smear campaign.

He also seems to have attracted conservative and nationalist voters turned off by the main candidates.

Read more:

Sinan Ogan: The anti-refugee ultra-nationalist shaking up Turkey's election

inan Ogan, presidential candidate of Turkey's right-wing nationalist Ancestral Alliance, in Ankara, 15 May 2023 (Reuters)
Sinan Ogan, presidential candidate of Turkey's right-wing nationalist Ancestral Alliance, in Ankara, 15 May 2023 (Reuters)

1 year ago

The Turkish lira has been falling for several years now against the dollar, a trend which continued this morning with news of a presidential runoff. 

Timothy Ash, economist and Turkey analyst, says that Erdogan is unlikely to hike central bank interest rates in defence of the lira. 

"So that means either let the lira continue weakening, or call a friend (Putin or Gulf) to get new $$ to defend the currency or impose capital controls," Ash writes in his latest newsletter. 

"Putin will want to keep Erdogan dependent so won't give Erdogan enough cash. Gulf guys will demand policy orthodoxy as price for cash (as with Egypt), so it means IMF, higher rates, weaker currency. He won't do that."

People queue at a currency exchange booth, following the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections, in Istanbul, 15 May (Reuters)
People queue at a currency exchange booth, following the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections, in Istanbul, 15 May (Reuters)

As a result, Ash argues, Erdogan will continue his economic policy, which in recent years has been dogmatically pro-low interest rates.

"[He will] let the currency weaken, selectively use capital controls and macro prudential and suck up higher inflation by trying to regulate markets and price increases." 

For millions of Turkish voters, the economy will be the key policy issue in the second round of voting on 28 May.

Turkey faces soaring inflation and living costs, and is still dealing with the huge financial damage of the devastating earthquake in February. 

1 year ago

It's official: Turkey is heading for a presidential runoff. 

The Supreme Election Council has confirmed that the second round of voting will take place on 28 May. 

Erdogan received 49.51 percent of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu received 44.88 percent.

1 year ago

Sinan Ogan, the third-placed presidential candidate who got 5.2 percent of the vote, has criticised Der Spiegel following an interview about who he would back in the runoff.

A journalist at the German publisher, quoting directly from Ogan's comments, tweeted that the candidate had said: "I'll only support Kilicdaroglu if the HDP is excluded from the political system," referring to the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party. 

Ogan hit back on Twitter, stating that what he told Der Spiegel was no different to comments made to Turkish media. "Where did you make this up?" he asked

Earlier, Ogan told Turkish reporters that his conditions for backing a candidate in the runoff included preserving key constitutional articles, "repatriating refugees, the fight against FETO and PKK terrorist groups, and [a change to the current] interest rate policy". 

He added that nothing would happen unless those conditions were met, and that he would hold consultations before throwing his support behind either candidate. 

1 year ago

Faik Oztrak, the deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), has said preliminary official results indicate there will now certainly be a runoff.

Just 300 ballot boxes are yet to be counted, he said in televised remarks, and there are not enough votes there to swing the election in Erdogan's favour this round.

Erdogan vs Kilicdaroglu II will be held on 28 May.

1 year ago

Turkish officials and sources close to Erdogan have told Middle East Eye they are confident that he can easily win the runoff.

They believe Erdogan retaining a majority in parliament will give him a psychological superiority against his competitor in the case of a runoff. “Turkish people don’t like cohabitation,” one senior official said.

Another advantage is Sinan Ogan's voters, the third presidential candidate who got 5.2 percent of the vote. 

Analysis by MEE based on Anadolu Agency data indicates that Erdogan voters in several regions emigrated to Ogan. It may have been due to economic hardships or anti-refugee feeling. 

It is likely these voters will return to Erdogan’s camp in the runoff, since he most represents the Turkish nationalist side of the country in a binary choice with Kilicdaroglu.

Ragip Soylu's, our Turkey bureau chief, explains in his latest report from Ankara: 

Erdogan in a strong position ahead of presidential runoff

erdogan speaks to supporters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the AKP headquarters in Ankara, on 15 May (Reuters)

1 year ago

Turkey's lira has hit a two-month low, as markets react to the uncertainty of the next two weeks ahead of the likely presidential runoff. 

The currency fell to 19.70 against the dollar in the opening hours of this morning, for the first time since a volatile trading day on 10 March.

Meanwhile, Borsa Istanbul - Turkey's only licensed operator of capital markets - was temporarily halted after the index fell more than 6 percent in pre-market trading.

Dollar bonds issued in the country also fell by 5 percent, and five-year credit default swaps jumped to the highest point since November.

Many Turkish voters have cited the economy as the key issue for them in this election.

The country is in the midst of an economic crisis, with inflation around 50 percent and soaring living costs. In recent years, Erdogan has kept interest rates low despite a surge in inflation. 

The central bank will hold its next meeting to set interest rates on 25 May - just three days before the runoff vote. 

1 year ago

We now look almost certain for a runoff, with Erdogan still short of the 50 percent threshold. 

The president has received 49.4 percent of the vote, Supreme Election Council head Ahmet Yener announced this morning. 

Kilicdaroglu received 44.96 percent, while Sinan Ogan had 5.2 percent of the vote share. With 99 percent of ballots opened, we are headed for a runoff on 28 May as things stand.

1 year ago

Good morning MEE readers. 

After one of the most historic days in Turkey's political history, it looks like we're set to do it all over again. 

Neither Recep Tayyip Erdogan or opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu were able to surpass the 50 percent threshold needed to win yesterday's presidential election in the first round. 

After 97 percent of ballots were counted, Erdogan leads with 49.39 percent of votes while Kilicdaroglu has 44.92 percent, according to Anadolu news agency. Nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan has 5.3 percent of the vote.

In the parliamentary vote, the ruling AK Party and MHP are on course to retain their majority. 

The president was in a buoyant mood last night as he addressed supporters from the balcony of the AK Party headquarters in Ankara.

"Even though the final results are not in, we are far ahead. We still don’t know the final official results, we are still waiting for the will of the nation to become apparent."

erdogan waves balcony
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his wife Ermine Erdogan, waves to supporters at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on 15 May 2023 (AFP)

The man who has dominated Turkish politics for two decades has given a victory speech from that same balcony spot after all his election victories over the year. 

"While we were waiting for the results, I decided to give the traditional balcony speech in advance," he said.

He added that he believed he would surpass 50 percent with the votes still left to be counted, but if it went to a second round he would "respect that too".

In a short speech alongside other opposition leaders in his coalition alliance, Kilicdaroglu said: "We will win these elections in the second round."

"Erdogan didn't get the vote of confidence from the people. The desire to change in the society is more than 50 percent."

With the runoff set for 28 May, the two-week campaign has already begun.

1 year ago

It's around 1.30am in Turkey and with 95 percent of the ballot boxes estimated by Anadolu to have been opened, the news agency is giving Erdogan 49.50 percent and Kilicdaroglu 44.79 percent.

With the outstanding votes expected to heavily favour the opposition candidate, that means we're almost certainly going to have a runoff between the two on 28 May.

Meanwhile, the AKP and MHP look set to retain their majority in parliament. They are projected to take 323 seats out of 600 with 89 percent of the vote counted.

Kilicdaroglu has made a statement, saying results were being impeded by objections and called on election authorities to “not block the people’s will”.

Erdogan is expected to speak within the hour.

It's been a pleasure to be with you this election night. Our blog will be up and running again tomorrow morning, and of course we'll be right here in two weeks' time for the sequel.

For now, read MEE's story on a historic day in Turkey. Thanks and goodnight.

Turkey set for runoff election as Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu fall short

CHP members watch TV after the first results at the CHP building in Istanbul (AFP)
CHP members watch TV after the first results at the CHP building in Istanbul (AFP)

1 year ago

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was believed to be spending election night in Ankara, but he’s just turned up in Istanbul, where he usually spends elections.

Two sources familiar with the issue told Middle East Eye that Erdogan was in Istanbul all this time for security purposes.

In order to give the impression that Erdogan was arriving in Ankara, a motorcade flying presidential seal was sent to the airport this afternoon, supposedly picking up Erdogan.

Erdogan's car in Ankara. He wasn't actually in it in the end (Anadolu Agency)
Erdogan's car in Ankara. He wasn't actually in it in the end (Anadolu Agency)

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay also was at the airport to strengthen the subterfuge. The motorcade was visibly carrying Erdoğan’s chief bodyguard. His presence was used to increase the motorcade’s credibility.

Now Erdogan’s on live TV, mixing among supporters in Istanbul.

Footage on TV of Erdogan mixing with supporters in Istanbul (Screenshot)
Footage on TV of Erdogan mixing with supporters in Istanbul (Screenshot)