What’s a run-off? All to know about Turkey election results

This is the first time Erdogan faces a second-round run-off vote as a presidential candidate.

Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cheer outside the headquarters of AK Party in Istanbul
Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cheer outside the AK Party headquarters in Istanbul, on May 14, 2023 [Francisco Seco/AP Photo]

So, who won Turkey’s presidential election?

Nobody … yet.

After a highly-contested first round of elections on Sunday, Turkey is very likely heading towards a run-off vote on May 28 as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was hoping to secure a third term, has barely failed to secure the required 50 percent of votes, despite faring better than predicted.

Wait, what’s a run-off vote?

A run-off vote is a second round of voting that takes place when no candidate receives more than half of the presidential vote.

As vote counting entered its final stages on Monday, all indicators pointed to Erdogan being just below the 50 percent threshold needed to win in the first round.

He and his closest competitor, Kemal Kilicdarolgu, will likely gear up to campaign over the next two weeks as Erdogan tries to extend his two-decade rule, and Kilicdaroglu hopes to launch Turkey on a “new path” with the backing of his six-party alliance.

The final results from Sunday’s vote are expected to be announced by 3pm (12:00 GMT) on Monday, Al Jazeera’s Farah al-Zaman Shawki said from Ankara, with votes from abroad yet to be fully counted.

Which candidate is leading from Sunday’s vote?

With 99 percent of domestic ballot boxes counted, Erdogan had 49.92 percent of votes, with Kilicdaroglu trailing closely with 44.95 percent of votes, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, which gets its numbers from Turkey’s Supreme Election Council.

Meanwhile, third-place candidate Sinan Ogan had 5.2 percent, a surprisingly high result for many analysts.

Opinion polls in the run-up to Sunday’s vote had predicted a slight lead for Kilicdaroglu, meaning Erdogan has done better than expected.

As election night drew to a close, both sides claimed to be ahead in the vote count and quarrelled about the presentation of ballot figures.

Do the candidates accept a second-round run-off vote?

Erdogan said early on Monday that he could still win, adding, however, that he would respect a decision to have a run-off.

Kilicdaroglu also said he would accept a run-off and pledged to win it.

“Despite all of his lies and attacks, Erdogan did not receive the desired outcome,” said Kilicdaroglu.

“We will absolutely win the second round … and bring democracy,” he added.

Has Turkey ever had a run-off before?

This would be the first run-off vote under Turkey’s new electoral system. Turkey transitioned from a parliamentary system to a presidential one in July 2018.

The 1989, 1993, 2000 and 2007 presidential elections went to a third round, but both the voting and political systems were different from the ones in place in Turkey now. Presidents in these elections were chosen by parliamentarians, whose position was purely symbolic without any real power.

Meanwhile, Erdogan claimed an absolute majority outright in the 2014 elections, when the voting system changed to one where the citizenry elected their president.

The third-place candidate has been called a ‘kingmaker’, what is that?

Ogan has been dubbed “kingmaker” by analysts because he could play a pivotal role in the outcome of a second round if he endorses one of the other two candidates facing off in the round-off vote.

Given how tight the margins are, Ogan’s 5.25 percent would be a huge help to either Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu.

In an interview with German news site Der Spiegel, Ogan reportedly said he would lend his support to the opposition Nation’s Alliance only if the “HDP is excluded from the political system”, referring to the predominantly pro-Kurdish socialist Peoples’ Democratic Party.

In a tweet on Monday, however, Ogan contested saying anything to Der Spiegel that differed from what he had told the Turkish press.

Translation: No, Der Spiegel, in the interview I gave you, we didn’t say anything different from the general conditions we said to the Turkish press. Where did you make this up?

The ATA Alliance candidate will “for sure” be a decisionmaker, but wouldn’t give his endorsement without getting something in return, according to Onur Erim, an analyst at Dragoman Strategies.

Ogan will want ministries or vice presidencies in exchange for an endorsement, Erim told Al Jazeera.

What are the results of the parliamentary elections?

Reporting from Izmir, Al Jazeera’s Omar Hajj says the governing AK Party garnered the most seats in parliament, despite losing a number of seats. Despite that, Erdogan’s alliance has still managed to secure a majority in the 600-seat parliament.

“The number of AK Party seats in parliament has decreased from 296 to 266,” said Hajj.

“The Republican People’s Party [CHP] won 166 seats [with their alliance], but it did not get these seats alone. This means they only have 135 seats,” he added.

Anadolu said Erdogan’s ruling alliance was hovering around 49.3 percent, while Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance had about 35.2 percent and support for a pro-Kurdish party stood above 10 percent.

How might the candidates fare in a May 28 run-off vote?

Analysts predict Erdogan is more likely to win in a second round.

Political analyst Ali Carkoglu said Erdogan has “the momentum behind him” following Sunday’s polls.

“Erdogan maintained his base of support in the heartland of Anatolia, although he lost some support in the southeast … He also maintained some credible level of support in the big cities, as well,” Carkoglu told Al Jazeera.

“He was very successful also in the earthquake-hit regions. Some people find it surprising, but he apparently delivered what they expected of him and promises that he will deliver even better in the aftermath of the election,” the analyst added.

Carkoglu said what went wrong for the opposition was that “they couldn’t get any support from the heartland of Turkey”.

He added that some of the opposition alliance members, especially the nationalists, did not perform as strongly as they had hoped for.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said there are some members of the opposition who are disappointed with Kilicdaroglu and consider him the wrong candidate as he was not able to chip away the conservative votes from the party.

“They are also questioning the alliance with the pro-Kurdish HDP which the Turkish government considers to be a political wing of the PKK,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies