Tension has arisen due to different reports on which presidential candidate is leading in the elections.
Istanbul, Turkey – As Turkey’s election night approaches, both sides claim to be ahead of the vote count and fight over the presentation of ballot numbers.
The opposition directed their complaints at the data published by the state-run Anadolu news agency, claiming it slowed down the count to put their candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu behind President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Anadolu figures before 11 p.m. (20:00 GMT) showed Erdogan, who is seeking an additional five-year term after 20 years in power, at 50.13 percent, enough to he could win the presidential race in the first round and avoid a runoff.
Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of a six-strong alliance led by his Republican People’s Party (CHP), is at 44.09 percent.
However, figures from the Anka news agency show Erdogan’s lead as narrow, with the president at 48.87 percent and Kilicdaroglu with 45.38 percent of the national vote.
Anadolu then updated its data, reporting Erdogan’s vote share at 49.94 percent.
This puts Kilicdaroglu at 44.4 percent, with the gap between the two leading ones narrowing. With Erdogan falling below the more than 50 percent mark needed to win the election, it makes a runoff vote more likely in two weeks.
Earlier, two senior figures from the CHP – Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and his Ankara counterpart Mansur Yavas – severely criticized Anadolu’s role in the election.
“We experienced another case in Anadolu Agency,” Imamoglu said. “The reputation of the agency is below zero. They should not be trusted. The data of Anadolu is null and void.”
Yavas added: “They are misleading our country by running ballot boxes that work for them,” he said. “They are not shy either. They have no credibility … According to our data, our President Kemal Kilicdaroglu is ahead.
Omer Celik, spokesman for Erdogan’s AK Party, accused the mayors of trying to steal the ballot.
“They made a very serious statement,” he said. “They attacked Anadolu Agency and declared election results. This is a dictatorial approach. This is an attempt to kill the national will.”
We were first.
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) May 14, 2023
Kilicdaroglu put it simply, tweeting earlier: “We’re ahead.”
Turkey’s opposition has accused Anadolu of manipulating the timing of its results in past elections, claiming it always showed an early lead for the AK Party and delayed voting numbers for places where the opposition is strong.
In a statement on Twitter, Erdogan called on his party workers to guard the ballot boxes until the results are officially in – a refrain more commonly heard from the opposition on election nights.
Meanwhile, the third candidate in the race, Sinan Ogan of the right-wing ATA Alliance, appeared to get more votes than expected. Both Anadolu and Anka showed him more than 5 percent, a significant achievement for a relatively unknown figure.