2023 Turkey’s presidential race sour

The last hours of Turkey’s presidential race have turned increasingly sour as Recep Tayyip Erdogan bids to extend his 20 years in power by five more.

Ahead of Sunday’s run-off vote, opposition rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu has courted nationalist votes by vowing to expel millions of Syrian refugees.

The president accused him of hate speech – and said a Kilicdaroglu victory would be a win for terrorists.

The opposition candidate trailed in the first round by 2.5 million votes.

The president is favourite, but his rival believes the margin could still be bridged – either by the 2.8 million supporters of an ultranationalist candidate who came third or by the eight million voters who did not turn out in the first round.

International monitors say voters may have had a genuine choice, but that Turkey “did not fulfil the basic principles for holding a democratic election”.

The town of Bala, an hour’s drive to the south-east of Ankara, is not the sort of place Mr Kilicdaroglu will be able to turn to for support. More than 60% of voters backed President Erdogan there two weeks ago, and there is little sign of any of Turkey’s five million first-time voters out on the streets.

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