Presidential race in 2nd round: Erdoğan looking to increase support to 55 pct, opposition after new strategies

With the presidential election left to the second round, Erdoğan’s aim is to garner 55 percent of the votes this time, whereas the opposition Nation Alliance is looking into new strategies.

Nergis Demirkaya / Gazete Duvar

As Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has finished off the first round of the presidential race 4.5 percent ahead of rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the ruling People’s Alliance is now looking to expand its voter base in the second round.

According to backstage reports, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) executives express the belief that “We will win at 55 percent” in the second round, while the opposition Nation Alliance is working on new strategies.

The AKP will reportedly try to convince more voters by arguing that the new president needs to be from the same alliance that holds the parliamentary majority. Also, the ruling party will try to garner the support of citizens who cast their votes for the far-right nationalist candidate Sinan Oğan in the first round.

On May 16, President Erdoğan gave the message that the second round of the race will take him easily to victory by tweeting: “It is time to crown the success we achieved on May 14 with a bigger victory.”

Kılıçdaroğlu also released a message on Twitter and said that there is a need for a change in the country. He also wrote, “the message of change came out from the (ballot) boxes” and there are 12 days left “to get out of this dark tunnel.”

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) executives reportedly say that the party is looking to expand its voter base and will try to convince Green Left Party and İYİ Party voters to support Kılıçdaroğlu once again.

“We will not hold big rallies. We will continue to use social media in a powerful way. It is important to convince millions of voters who have not gone to the ballot boxes or used invalid votes. A work has been launched with regards to this issue,” CHP resources told Gazete Duvar. In the first round of the presidential race, out of 64.1 million eligible voters, 55.7 million voted, and the votes of 54.7 million citizens were valid.  

Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu is known to have held a phone conversation with Oğan on May 14 night, who received 5.17 percent of the votes in the first round.

CHP sources said “diplomatic meetings” with Oğan will continue. “Mr. Oğan is a name who has dedicated himself to the path of nationalism. One of our six arrows (on the CHP flag) is nationalism. We share the same ideal. We are against terror organizations. We believe that we can move in unison,” they said. 

According to the latest election results, the CHP will be represented in the parliament with 169 lawmakers. Of this number, 40 lawmakers are from other opposition parties in the six-party bloc. Although these parties have gotten a big share of the CHP seats, it is alleged that they have not brought much of a voter base to the CHP or Kılıçdaroğlu. However, the opposition bloc’s parties have reacted against this allegation.

“If we are to make an evaluation, it is necessary to say, ‘We were unable to meet the social change demand.’ We are being accused but the main opposition needs to discuss, independently of us, why it failed to garner the 40 percent support level, which it should have received. If the AKP’s support level fell by 7 percent (compared to the previous elections), our breaking off from there has an effect on this. We have ensured that our base has voted for the CHP. The CHP’s votes have increased in 60-65 provinces. We have a contribution to this increase,” said a Future Party official.

Another discussion in the Nation Alliance is that the support level for Kılıçdaroğlu among İYİ Party voters has been low. An İYİ Party executive said that this is partially true as they had previously warned that 30-40 percent of İYİ Party voters might not support Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential election. The executives said that however once Kılıçdaroğlu was determined as the Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate, İYİ Party tried to convince its voter base as much as possible. “If the work was not sufficient, there is a need to evaluate this and formulate a new strategy,” they said. 

As of 2.30 p.m. on May 16, some 99.87 percent of the ballot boxes have been opened in the presidential election, with Erdoğan having received 49.50 percent of the votes, whereas Kılıçdaroğlu 44.89 percent. As for the parliamentary election result, the ruling People’s Alliance garnered 49.46 percent of the votes (322 lawmakers), the main opposition Nation Alliance 35.02 percent of the votes (213 lawmakers), and the Labor and Freedom Alliance 10.54 percent of the votes (65 lawmakers).

(English version by Didem Atakan)