Is the Erdogan era ending?: Polling stations in Turkey closed – first results in the evening


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The only die Honor Erdogan?
Polling stations in Turkey closed – first results in the evening

It could be tight for the Turkish head of state Erdogan. His challenger Kilicdaroglu was recently ahead in polls for the presidential election. A victory for the opposition politician could bring the country closer to the EU and Germany.

In a landmark election, the people of Turkey voted on the president and a new parliament. Polling stations closed at 5:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. CEST). Incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan has to worry about his re-election after 20 years in power. Polls had pointed to a neck-and-neck race between him and his challenger, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Reliable results were announced for the late evening.

According to an initial assessment by the competent authority, the election ran smoothly. Opposition politicians reported minor incidents from various provinces. Around 64 million people in Germany and abroad were invited to vote. In Germany, around 1.5 million people with a Turkish passport were entitled to vote. Observers expected a high turnout. In the last nationwide election, the 69-year-old Erdogan won with 52.5 percent of the votes, and the turnout was more than 86 percent.

“We missed democracy a lot”

“We missed democracy a lot,” said opposition leader Kilicdaroglu at noon when voting. “Spring” will hopefully come soon, said the 74-year-old, referring to a possible victory in the election. Erdogan, who cast his vote in Istanbul, traveled to the capital Ankara in the afternoon.

Since the introduction of a presidential system five years ago, 69-year-old Erdogan has had more power than ever before. Critics fear that the country, with a population of around 85 million, could slip completely into autocracy if Erdogan were re-elected. The vote in the NATO country is also being closely observed internationally.

The 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu is head of the social-democratic CHP and ran for an alliance of six parties. He promises a more democratic Türkiye. The third candidate, Sinan Ogan, has no chance of winning. Another challenger, Muharrem Ince, had withdrawn from the race. However, his name was still on the ballot paper and votes cast for him were to be counted.

Erdogan drives aggressive campaign

If none of the candidates wins an absolute majority in the first round, there will be a presidential runoff in two weeks time – on May 28th. So far, Erdogan’s Islamic conservative AKP has held a majority in parliament in alliance with the ultra-nationalist MHP. Erdogan has never had to go to a runoff.

The election campaign was tense and considered unfair, mainly because of the government’s superior media power. The dominant theme was the poor economic situation with massive inflation. Erdogan promised, among other things, an increase in civil servants’ salaries and further investments in the defense industry. He waged an aggressive campaign, calling the opposition “terrorists”.

Kilicdaroglu is considered a level-headed politician. He comes from the eastern Turkish province of Tunceli and belongs to the Alevi religious minority. The opposition leader wants to restore the independence of institutions like the central bank and get high inflation under control. He stands for a rapprochement with Germany and the EU, but also for a stricter migration policy.

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