President Erdoğan, AK Party win Turkish elections again

Supporters of the AK Party-led People’s Alliance react to early election results, in Istanbul Turkey. Credit Photo Reuters

By Daily Sabah

Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary polls in Turkey ended with another victory for incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party according to unofficial results as of 02:00 a.m. on Monday

Adding another victory to his two decades of wins, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dominated the polls in presidential elections on Sunday according to unofficial results. As of 02:00 a.m. on Monday, Erdoğan had 49% of the vote. His Justice and Development Party (AK Party) also secured a high number of seats in the simultaneous parliamentary polls.

Addressing his supporters after midnight at the AK Party headquarters in the capital Ankara, Erdoğan said they were waiting for the “outcome of the national will,” but they had a “clear lead, though unofficial results have been announced.” Erdoğan had secured 49% of the vote as he spoke according to the initial unofficial results. “Türkiye has proven once again that it is among world’s leading democracies with its commitment to superiority of national will, freedom of its citizens in their political choices,” he added.

“We believe that we will win this election with more than 50% of the votes,” Erdoğan also said.

Erdoğan and his main rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, did not secure more than 50% of the vote, setting up a runoff vote scheduled for May 28.

After an uneventful vote that ended at 5 p.m. local time, a tense night prevailed in Turkey as ballot boxes were opened. The opposition bloc of six parties repeatedly opposed the vote count, claiming their candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was ahead of incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They contested the official results and cried foul over results announced by the public news agency Anadolu Agency (AA).

Both Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu called on their supporters to remain vigilant at the venues where votes were counted, “to stand guard at the ballot boxes.”

In the early hours of the vote count, Erdoğan criticized the opposition parties for claiming they were leading in the presidential and parliamentary elections while the vote count was still underway.

Erdoğan slammed what he called a “robbery of political will” by the opposition in a tweet late Sunday. His statements came amid allegations from the opposition that the vote results were manipulated or delayed and amid pro-opposition media outlets publishing their own results.

“The May 14 elections were held in peace and have been a festival of democracy. It is a reflection of Türkiye’s democratic maturity. As we carried out the elections in such a positive and democratic atmosphere and as the votes are still being counted, rushing the declaration of the results means robbery of political will,” he said. Erdoğan said he was pleased with the reflection of the nation’s will in the ballots and urged his supporters to stay at the venues where ballots are being counted.

Parliamentary race

By midnight on Sunday, after over 61 million citizens were called to vote across the country, unofficial results from Anadolu Agency (AA) showed the four-party bloc of the People’s Alliance had won 49.67% of the votes when 93.2% of the ballot boxes were opened.

The bloc is likely to secure at least 324 seats in the 600-member Parliament. The AK Party has allied with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Great Union Party (BBP), and the New Welfare Party (YRP) for this year’s critical elections.

The AK Party itself had 35.5% of the votes that would grant it 268 parliamentary seats, while the MHP had 10.2% equaling 51 lawmakers. As for their smaller partners, the YRP won 2.85% countrywide, equaling five lawmakers as the BBP won 1.01%, which is not enough to produce a lawmaker.

The bloc’s closest rival, the Nation Alliance, a six-party opposition bloc helmed by the CHP, had won 34.98% of the votes by the time more than 93% of the ballot boxes were open, meaning 211 parliamentary seats. The CHP covered the majority of the opposition bloc’s votes with more than 25%, which would likely land it 167 lawmakers.

Trailing after it at 9.93% was the bloc’s second-largest partner the Good Party (IP) with the right to have 44 parliamentarians. Four smaller partners, the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP), the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and the Felicity Party (SP) were competing in CHP lists.

The third biggest alliance running in the elections is the Labor and Freedom Alliance, whose largest member, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been competing under another party’s name for fear of closure. The HDP, a party known for its affiliation with the PKK terrorist group and fighting a lawsuit over it, has opted to run its parliamentary candidates under the Green Left Party (YSP) due to the risk of being banned from politics. The YSP clinched more than 8.7% in constituencies it ran, consisting mostly of Kurdish-majority provinces in the southeastern region.

Their alliance, however, won more than 10% of the votes, equaling some 65 seats in Parliament for its seven parties in total.

Minor presidential runner Sinan Oğan’s nationalist ATA Alliance did not do so well, lagging at 2.25%, which wasn’t enough to secure a lawmaker post for any of its members.

The fifth alliance, the Socialist Co-Operative Alliance, too suffered a similar fate, failing to garner enough votes and faltering at just 0.27%. Unofficial data showed turnout for Sunday’s elections surpassed 88% while votes were still being counted, a significant rate for 64 million Turks in both Türkiye and overseas, as well as over 4.9 million first-time voters. Voting abroad, in the meantime, taking place a week before May 14, saw record-breaking people showing up.

Comparisons to the last elections in Türkiye, 2018’s presidential and general elections, are inevitable. Five years ago, Türkiye’s electorate had 56 million people on the register and 49 million went to polls, marking an 88.1% turnout. While Erdoğan himself won a crushing 52.3% of the votes in that election, his AK Party had garnered 42.2%, easily securing a majority in Parliament, alongside the MHP’s 11.2%. The CHP’s parliamentary votes stayed at 22.8%, while its presidential runner Muharrem Ince, who ran this year only to drop out three days before the vote, lost against Erdoğan with 30.7%.

Presidential candidate Sinan Oğan received over 5% of the overall votes, surpassing projections and expectations. Before the vote count concluded, Oğan claimed that there is a high possibility that the elections would not be finalized in the first round. “Turkish nationalists and Kemalists are key in this election,” Oğan told reporters, adding that there is a lot “for the people who forced Homeland Party (MP) Chairman Muharrem Ince to withdraw from the race” to learn from the results of the elections, as he criticized them for also targeting him and his party days ahead of the elections to withdraw from the race.