Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is leading in the runoff against Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Türkiye’s Anadolu Agency reported on Sunday. Erdogan failed to gain a majority in the first round of the election, but looks set to comfortably defeat his pro-Western challenger this time around.
Polls opened across Türkiye on Sunday for the second time in two weeks, in a runoff election that will determine whether Erdogan remains in power or is ousted by his more liberal opponent.
By Sunday evening, Erdogan was in the lead with 52.5% of the vote to Kilicdaroglu’s 47.5%, with 93% of the ballot boxes opened, Anadolu Agency reported.
Turnout was down slightly compared to the first round on May 14, with 85% of eligible voters casting ballots. Two weeks earlier, a turnout figure of almost 90% was recorded.
Erdogan won 49.5% of the vote on May 14, with Kilicdaroglu taking 44.8%. With neither candidate breaking the 50% threshold, a runoff election was announced and third-place candidate Sinan Ogan, who took 5% of the vote, was eliminated.
Ogan endorsed Erdogan last week. His voters did not unanimously back the incumbent, however, with seemingly equal numbers transferring their votes to Kilicdaroglu on Sunday.
Erdogan is a social conservative who has served as president since 2014, and was prime minister for 11 years beforehand. Under his leadership, Türkiye has pursued closer trade and diplomatic ties to Russia and China, while positioning itself as a potential peacemaker in regional conflicts, including in Ukraine.
At home, Erdogan responded to an attempted coup in 2016 by strengthening the powers of his own office, while appealing to conservative Muslim voters by overturning a long-standing ban on religious headscarves in public institutions and reclassifying the iconic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as a mosque.
Kilicdaroglu is a centrist seeking to undo many of Erdogan’s domestic reforms, particularly the post-2016 constitutional changes. If elected, he has vowed to immediately restart EU accession talks, mend ties with Türkiye’s NATO allies, and revive the country’s flagging economy.