May 14 (UPI) — Turkey’s Sunday presidential election appeared to be headed for a run-off as neither long-serving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, achieved a majority of votes as ballot counting neared completion early Monday.
State-run Anadolu news agency reported early Monday that with more than 99% of the vote counted, Erdogan was leading with 49.4% of the vote share to Kilicdaroglu’s 44/9%, with Sinan Ogan taking up a little more than 5%. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, then the election will go to a run-off on May 28.
Though ballots were still being counted, Erdogan told his supporters from the balcony of his Justice and Development Party’s Ankara headquarters early Monday that they were leading in the parliamentary and presidential elections.
“Although the exact results are not clear yet, we are well ahead,” Erdogan said, according to Anadolu.
He said that he expected his lead to grow on Kilicdaroglu.
“We believe we’ll finish this round with over 50% of the votes,” Erdogan said.
At his own headquarters, Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party as well as the candidate of the six-party Nation Alliance opposition, told supporters that if the nation wants a run-off election then they welcome it.
“We will absolutely win this election in the second round,” he said in the televised speech. “Everyone will see that.”
Erdogan is trying to recover from complaints about the government’s response to a devastating earthquake and financial crisis that saw inflation skyrocket. Polls show he is in a tight race with Kilicdaroglu, who has also taken advantage of Erdogan’s turn to a more authoritarian style of governing in recent years.
Erdogan had not been able to move polls to a larger lead despite being in control of the media and messaging in the country. The high interest in the election leading up to the opening of the polls appeared to play out on Sunday.
“We are expecting a record turnout in Istanbul, and there are also reports that this is the same across Turkey,” Canan Kaftancıoglu, the Istanbul chair of Kilicdaroglu’s CHP party, said. “Except for one or two individual cases, I would say that our citizens completed the voting process without any trouble or problem.”
Erdogan issued a post on Twitter promising to “protect the will of our nation,” despite some concerns that he could object to the election if he does not win.
“The voting process was completed in a way that befits our democracy, thank God,” Erdogan said. “Now, as always, it’s time to hold tight to the ballot boxes. Until the results are final, we continue to protect the will of our nation!”
In Washington when asked about the election and the potential over a dispute in Turkey to its results, U.S. President Joe Biden said “whoever wins, wins.”
“There’s enough problems in that part of the world right now without that happening,” he said to reporters.