Initial election results indicate Erdogan’s lead in presidential runoff

Preliminary results in Turkey’s presidential runoff vote on Sunday showed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of his rival as the leader fights to stretch his rule into a third decade.

With 91.55% of the ballots counted, Erdogan received 52.61% of the votes, according to unofficial preliminary results published by state-run Anadolu agency, while opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu received 47.39%.

Voter turnout is 85.41%, according to Anadolu.

Earlier on Sunday, Erdogan asked his supporters “to stay at the ballot boxes until results are finalized.”

“Now is the time to protect the will of the people which we hold in the highest esteem,” Erdogan wrote on his Twitter account.

Every Turkish citizen has a right to watch the vote count at their ballot boxes, and doing so has become something of a tradition in Turkey.

Spokesman for Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Faik Oztrak, seemingly warned Erdogan against carrying out any speeches to supporters until the official election results have been announced.

“No one should muddy the waters with balcony speeches,” Oztrak said on Sunday, referring to Erdogan’s traditional election-night style speech. “We’re sending a clear warning: No one should try to make this into a ‘fait accompli’ until the results are final.”

“I say this with emphasis: we’ll protect the will of the nation until the end and we will win,” he said.

Erdogan is going head-to-head against Kilicdaroglu, a 74-year-old bureaucrat and leader of the left-leaning CHP.

In the first round of voting on May 14, Erdogan secured a nearly five-point lead over Kilicdaroglu but fell short of the 50% threshold needed to win.

The president’s parliamentary bloc won a majority of seats in the parliamentary race on the same day.

Erdogan cast his vote at a voting center in Istanbul on Sunday. “This is a first in Turkish democratic history,” he said.

“Turkey, with nearly 90% participation in the last round, showed its democratic struggle beautifully and I believe it will do the same again today,” he added.

Kilicdaroglu cast his vote in Ankara, telling reporters: “In order to get rid of the oppression and to get rid of this authoritarian leadership, to bring real democracy and freedom, I call on all citizens to go vote and to stand by the ballot boxes after.

“Because [the] election was held under hardships, all sorts of black propaganda and slander was used but I trust in the common sense of the people.”

Electoral authorities said voting was passing “without any issues” and that results should come sooner than in the first round.

Last week, third-place candidate Sinan Ogan, who won 5% of the first-round vote, publicly endorsed Erdogan, further boosting the strongman leader’s chances of winning Sunday’s second and final presidential round.

Many polls had incorrectly predicted that Kilicdaroglu would lead in the May 14 vote, which saw a high turnout of nearly 90% across the country.