Erdogan heading for a runoff in Turkey’s knife-edge elections

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not receive 50% of the vote in order to definitively extend his 20-year rule, and it now appears that Turkey's hotly contested presidential election will proceed to a second round.

An important NATO ally and regional power broker will ultimately be decided by the high-stakes election, which will take place at a time when much of the world is in the grip of uncertainty due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

As Erdogan's early lead diminished on Sunday evening, the atmosphere at the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters in Istanbul visibly grew gloomier.

Erdogan had 49.34% of the vote, compared to his main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu's 44.99%, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, which means neither candidate could declare an outright victory.

According to Anadolu, the third candidate, Sinan Ogan, received 5.28% of the vote, increasing the likelihood that he could play a decisive role in a runoff. 

A second ballot is "quite possible," he wrote on Twitter, and "Turkish nationalists and Ataturkists are in a key position for this election."

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