Turkey gears up for presidential runoff

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This is the first time Erdogan is facing a second-round runoff vote as a presidential candidate…reports Asian Lite News

Turkey’s recent presidential election is heading for a runoff on May 28, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan predicted to have a clearer edge in the upcoming showdown against Kemal Kilicdaroglu, after a third-place candidate said he would endorse the incumbent leader.

This is the first time Erdogan is facing a second-round runoff vote as a presidential candidate, as none of the three others garnered more than 50 per cent of votes needed to call a winner in the first round on May 14, reports Xinhua news agency.

Pre-election opinion polls gave a winning percentage to the opposition alliance led by Kilicdaroglu, but the scale seems to be tilting toward Erdogan after he received the open endorsement of Sinan Ogan, a nationalist candidate who won 5.17 per cent of vote in the first round.

Following a fiercely contested first ballot that left Erdogan with 49.52 per cent of votes, and Kilicdaroglu with 44.88 per cent, the two candidates dived into even more heated public debates to prove they are the best choice to lead the nation.

Erdogan, 69, could likely have the advantage going forward and might extend his leadership for another five years as his ruling coalition also obtained a majority of seats in the parliamentary race on May 14, analysts say.

He has secured large popular support despite economic hardships and the aftermath of devastating earthquakes in February.

He came out on top in most of the 11 quake-hit provinces where over 50,000 people died.

Voters in these regions, which are strongholds of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), have been reassured by Erdogan’s promises to rebuild cities within a year, Ankara-based political analyst Serkan Demirtas told Xinhua.

“Voters in the earthquake zone have confidence in Erdogan and his government’s experience in construction projects,” he said.

In capital Ankara, people told Xinhua that they were eager to vote for the candidate of their choice after the high turnout of the previous vote, which stood at 87 per cent.

“Turkey is at a crossroads,” said pensioner Remzi Karaoguz, adding “everything will be good”, using a slogan of 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu’s campaign.

Ziya Derya, an electrical engineer, said he would vote for stability, implying that he will favour the incumbent President.

“The most important thing for me is the security and the independence of my nation … I will vote for stability because without it, nothing is possible.”

In videos posted on Twitter ahead of the second round of voting, Kilicdaroglu has adopted a harder tone and promised to send millions of Syrian and Afghan refugees home to win nationalist votes and defeat Erdogan.

He also said that the election ahead is a “referendum” for the future of Turkey.

Meanwhile, Erdogan said in an interview with CNN that he will maintain his unconventional economic model of tackling high inflation with interest rate cuts, vowing that the inflation will go down along with low rates.

Kilicdaroglu promised on the other hand to return to economic orthodoxy, which would mean massive interest rate hikes to cool inflation.

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