Alwaght- The polls have opened across Turkey on Sunday in a presidential runoff that could see Tayyip Erdogan extend his rule into a third decade.
Polling stations opened at 8am local time in all 81 provinces, with more than 60 million people eligible to vote in Sunday’s runoff. Another 3.4 million Turkish citizens were eligible to vote abroad over the past week, but it is unknown how many cast their ballots. In the first round on May 14, turnout was almost 89% within the country, but only 49.4% abroad.
The two rivals hold opposing views on a range of policies, and the outcome of the election may determine the country’s course for the next five years.
Erdogan is a social conservative who has served as president since 2014, and was prime minister for 11 years beforehand. Under his leadership, Turkey has pursued closer trade and diplomatic ties to Russia and China, while positioning itself as a potential peacemaker in regional conflicts, including in Ukraine.
Kilicdaroglu is a centrist seeking to undo many of Erdogan’s domestic reforms, particularly the post-2016 constitutional changes that strengthened the powers of the presidency. He has vowed to immediately restart EU accession talks if elected, and to resuscitate Türkiye’s economy.
The first round ended inconclusively, with no candidate meeting the 50% threshold to win outright. Erdogan garnered 49.5% of the votes, while Kilicdaroglu received 44.9%. The third-place finisher, Sinan Ogan, won 5.17% and has since officially endorsed the incumbent.