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First Round of Turkey Elections 2023: All You Need to Know

Turkey has been the ground for numerous political discussions in the last few years. With the upcoming elections, the debates have heated up. Now, in 2023, it is time to elect the country’s new president and the council members. Because only four months have passed since the earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.8 in Turkey, the time of the elections has been crucial. Along with other pre-election events that will be discussed later in this article, Turkey is now waiting for the runoff between Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is the current president.

There had been two ballots, one for president and one for council members. The pre-election events for the council member selections went as usual: they toured the country and gave speeches. One of the most spoken facts is the current ministers entering the election to become council members. Other notable events include familiar names appearing for re-election. Ahmet Şık, the council member candidate for Turkey Labor Party (TİP), was said to withdraw from the election after his video regarding the members of their alliance, the Green Left Party (YSP). Later on, he stayed in and got re-elected.

The main focus, however, has always been the two major parties’ candidates: Kılıçdaroğlu and Erdoğan. Nearly all the polls conducted before the first round of elections showed that Kılıçdaroğlu would have the highest votes, if not taking more than %50 of the votes and winning the presidential election. These polls also included the two other candidates: Sinan Oğan and Muharrem İnce. Yet another surprising event occurred, and Muharrem İnce withdrew his candidacy when only three days remained until the elections. Some people argue that this was because of the alleged details about his private life; although, the claims are not cleared up yet. While giving a speech after announcing his withdrawal, İnce also criticized the opposing parties, which created a mix of reactions among the Turkish citizens. While some were shocked, others were expecting it.

On the day of the elections, the news was filled with claims regarding stolen ballots. For example, some ballots had printer errors, and on others, the seal that was supposed to stay on the envelope was put on Erdoğan's side. It is known that opposition parties objected to this, yet the results or the details are still unknown.

Opening the ballots was another chaos in the whole country. All of the channels and journalists argued about different upcoming results. For the entirety of the process, the percentages of the votes differed nearly by 10% between the media channels. Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş were the main speakers of the main opposition party, CHP. They stayed up during the night to give updates about the results. İmamoğlu and Yavaş argued that Kılıçdaroğlu had the advantage even though the media channels displayed otherwise. We did not hear much from Erdoğan's party, AKP, until Erdoğan gave the ‘balcony speech’— something he does every time he wins an election. Some were angry that he did this, making it seem like he won the election even though the results had not yet been finalized.

The council members’ election results indicate that the People's Alliance, AKP, MHP, BBP, and YRP had the most seats in the council. Yet we still don’t know the details about the presidential election. Not all of the ballots were counted and objections to the Supreme Committee of Elections by the opposition parties continue. Still, Erdoğan seems to have the highest percentage of votes for the first round. The second round will take place on May 28th.

Finally, for the second round, the name that is most talked about is Sinan Oğan. According to the most common results, Erdoğan had 49% and Kılıçdaroğlu had 45% of the votes. Sinan Oğan, with 5% of the votes, had been holding an important place in the upcoming round of the presidential election. And on May 22nd, Sinan Oğan publicly announced that he would be supporting Erdoğan in the next round, yet Sinan Oğan’s party leader opposed this and gave a speech on the 23rd. Ümit Özdağ, the Victory Party leader, supports Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round of the 2023 presidential elections.

Ballot for the first round of the presidential election

The election news change very quickly and not every update is shared with the public. We needed to wait at least 2 days after the presidential election to get the most clear results. Because two days is sufficient time to complete the objections to the Supreme Committee of Elections. Hopefully, the next few weeks will offer more news and answer to all the questions and we will see the definite results in the second round.

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