Turkey's third-placed candidate endorses Erdogan in presidential election run-off

Turkey's third-placed candidate endorses Erdogan in presidential election run-off
Ogan (left) will support Erdogan (right) in the presidential election second round. / Turkish presidency
By bne IntelIiNews May 22, 2023

Hardline nationalist Sinan Ogan, who received 5.17% of the vote according to the official results of the first round of Turkey's presidential election held on May 14, said on May 22 that he would support incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the second-round election run-off to be held on May 28.

Also according to the official results, Erdogan received 49.52% of the first-round vote, while opposition unity candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who leads the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nation Alliance opposition bloc, attracted 44.88%.

There is a continuing debate in Turkey over to what extent ballot paper fraud impacted the outcome of the first round voting. There is also a question mark over how many of Ogan’s voters will turn to Erdogan. However, if, for instance, the Erdogan regime declares a victory in the second round based on a margin of around 5% it can point to the Ogan support.

After the first round, there were instances of opposition candidates stating that a percentage of votes cast in their specific contests remained beyond their scrutiny. There were also various claims of the voting at particular polling stations not matching the voting tallies put out by the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK). Opposition parties challenged the results declared for several thousand ballot boxes, but they only accounted for a small percentage of the ballot boxes overall, with many voting records remaining beyond the opposition coalition's surveillance mechanism. 

Critics are concerned that in the country's elections, Turkey’s opposition never seems to challenge the election results to the extent that many voters would expect it to. Thus the results are quickly legitimised. Kilicdaroglu has called for at least 1mn people to defend the integrity of the around 192,214 ballot boxes that will be placed in polling stations. Given the opposition's track record in matters such as these, his call is very much likely to be in vain.

On paper, Turkey still has the option of getting rid of the Erdogan regime. Everything may very well depend on the opposition’s performance in defending the ballot boxes. Plenty of critics have therefore already concluded that for those who want Erdogan toppled, the election is a hopeless case.

Ogan, little-known before the election, made the most of his time in the spotlight at a press conference, saying: "I declare that we will support the People's Alliance candidate Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the second round." He added that his campaign had made Turkish nationalists "key players" in politics.

Kilicdaroglu's Nation Alliance "failed to convince us about the future," while the decision to back Erdogan was based on a principle of "non-stop struggle [against] terrorism," he said, as reported by Reuters.