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Turkey Latest: Erdogan Says Unclear If Vote Will Go to Runoff

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has a clear lead over main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in elections, adding that it’s still unclear if the vote will go to a runoff.

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Erdogan’s share of votes stood at 49.4% with more than 99% of the ballot boxes opened, according to state broadcaster TRT. Kilicdaroglu got 44.9% and Sinan Ogan, the third candidate in Sunday’s race, got 5.3%, TRT said. If the results hold and no candidate wins more than half of the total ballots, Turkey will be headed for a second round of voting. The top two contestants would face each other on May 28.

Erdogan, Turkey’s longest-serving leader, has molded the NATO member into a regional power that plays a growing role from Ukraine to Syria. But increasingly erratic economic policies have left the 69-year-old incumbent vulnerable to voter resentment after an inflation crisis last year gutted household budgets.

Kilicdaroglu, 74, has the backing of the nation’s broadest-ever grouping of opposition parties. He is running on a promise to restore the rule of law, mend strained ties with the West and return to economic orthodoxy.

The world’s money managers are waiting for the election’s outcome to decide whether Turkey becomes a “buy” again. Foreign money flooded Turkey’s equity and debt markets during Erdogan’s first decade in power, but investors exited in recent years as Erdogan’s growth-at-all-costs policies debased the nation’s currency.

Key Developments

  • Erdogan Teeters Before Turkey Vote That’s Got the World Watching

  • Quiet Politician Steps Up to Challenge Erdogan as Vote Looms

  • Turkish Vote Gives $900 Billion Emerging Market a Comeback Shot

  • Erdogan’s Followers Reconsider Their Loyalties as Election Looms

  • Why Turkey’s Election Is a Big Test for Erdogan: QuickTake

(All times Istanbul, GMT+3)

Kilicdaroglu Says He’ll Win Runoff Election (3 a.m)

Kilicdaroglu said the election’s outcome showed more than half the nation wants a change in the way Turkey is governed, vowing to defeat Erdogan in a possible second-round voting.

Erdogan Says He ‘Believes’ He’ll Win in First Round (02:23 a.m.)

Erdogan told supporters in the capital Ankara that he believed he can still win in the first round with more than 99% of the ballot boxes opened. The president said he’s waiting for final ballot results but that it’s clear he has the nation’s backing.

Lira Traders Brace for Volatility (1:51 a.m.)

Traders braced for more volatility in the lira as early vote tallies showed no clear winner and indicated a possible runoff election. The currency was slightly weaker in thin trading in the Asia morning as Turkey’s state banks intervened to hold the exchange rate at around 19.65 per dollar, according to people familiar with the matter. That compares with Friday’s close at 19.58.

“If these results hold, it would be one of the worst outcomes for markets,” said Ogeday Topcular, a money manager at RAM Capital SA. “There will be unclarity for the next two weeks.”

Lira Traders Brace for Volatility as Turkey Awaits Vote Outcome

Erdogan Votes at 49.6%, Key Rival Kilicdaroglu at 44.6% (00:11 a.m.)

Erdogan’s share of votes in Turkey’s presidential election stood at 49.6% with more than 96.9% of the ballot boxes opened, according to state broadcaster TRT. Kilicdaroglu had 44.6% of the vote and Sinan Ogan, the third candidate in Sunday’s race, got 5.3%, TRT said.

Opposition Heavyweights Renew Warnings on State Run Data (11:35 p.m.)

Main opposition mayors from Ankara and Istanbul said ballot data from state-run news agency Anadolu should not be trusted. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said there were still 7.5 million outstanding votes that were yet to be fed into the system, and that much of those ballots are from opposition-dominated areas.

“Our data shows Kilicdaroglu receiving 47.7% of the votes and Erdogan 45.8%,” Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas said in televised remarks.

Erdogan Below 50% Mark for the First time Since Ballot Count Begins (11:08 p.m.)

Erdogan’s share of votes in Turkey’s presidential election fell below 50% with more than 92% of the ballots boxes opened, according to state news agency Anadolu.

Kilicdaroglu had 44.3% of the vote and Ogan, the third candidate in Sunday’s race, got 5.3%, Anadolu said.

State Banks Intervene to Support Lira (10:56 p.m.)

Turkey’s state-run banks have begun intervening in the foreign-exchange market to support the lira, according to people familiar with the matter. The amounts are so far small and appear to be aimed at holding the exchange rate at around 19.65 liras per dollar, the people said, asking not to be named because they weren’t authorized to comment publicly.

Stealth interventions in the market by the central bank have totaled nearly $177 billion over the past 16 months, according to an estimate by Bloomberg Economics. The central bank declined to comment late on Sunday.

Third Candidate Predicts Runoff (10:56 p.m.)

“It looks like presidential elections will head for a second round of voting,” nationalist candidate Ogan said in televised comments. “Turkish nationalists, devotees of Ataturk will determine the second round,” said Ogan, referring to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Ogan refrained from throwing his weight behind any of the two main candidates, saying his alliance would make a decision later according to stances in various issues, including Erdogan’s insistence that high rates are the cause of inflation.

Erdogan Drops Near Critical Threshold (10:35 p.m.)

Erdogan had 50.1% of the vote and Kilicdaroglu 44.1% with 89.3% of ballot boxes opened, according to state broadcaster TRT. Ogan, the third contender, was at 5.3%.

Opposition Head Asks Election Watchdog to “Enter” Data Quickly (10:11 p.m.)

Opposition head Kilicdaroglu called on High Election Board to start entering ballot data quicker, saying that his party’s parallel count shows that Erdogan is already under the 50% mark.

Opposition Says Kilicdaroglu Leading Race With 47.4% (9:04 p.m.)

Ankara Mayor Yavas, said Kilicdaroglu is leading the race for president with 47.4% of the vote, compared with Erdogan’s 46.8%. Yavas said their parallel count is based on nearly half of all the ballot boxes.

State Broadcaster Shows Erdogan at 51.4% (9:03 p.m.)

Erdogan had 51.4% of the vote and Kilicdaroglu 42.8% with 67.1% of ballot boxes opened, according to state broadcaster TRT.

Opposition Says “Real Numbers” Show Kilicdaroglu Is Ahead (7:40 p.m.)

Ankara Mayor Yavas said Kilicdaroglu is leading the race for president with almost a quarter of all ballots counted. Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu said state news agency Anadolu is cherry-picking results to show Erdogan ahead. Kilicdaroglu tweeted: “We’re leading.”

Erdogan’s Lead is Narrowing (7:07 p.m.)

Erdogan got 55% of the votes and Kilicdaroglu got 39% with 22% of the ballots counted, according to TRT. Voter turnout was revised to 88.3%, TRT said.

Eyes on Lira After Election Night (7 p.m.)

After a volatile week for Turkish assets, attention on Monday will turn to the tightly controlled lira, with strategists and investors surveyed by Bloomberg expecting the currency to depreciate regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s vote.

Analysts at JPMorgan and HSBC expect the lira to depreciate to around 24-25 per dollar, from 19.58 now. In the equities market, financials will be the key sector to watch. Turkish banking stocks rallied last week, with the Borsa Istanbul Banks Index up 26%, its best performance since November 2002.

Erdogan Is Leading the Race (6:50 p.m.)

Erdogan got 57.5% of the votes and Kilicdaroglu got 36.7% with 12.8% of the ballots counted, according to TRT. Voter turnout was 87.8%, TRT said.

High Election Board Lifts Reporting Ban (6:30p.m.)

Turkey’s High Election Board lifted the ban on reporting of poll results nearly three hours earlier than expected.

Leaders Urge Ballot Box Monitoring (5:57 p.m.)

President Erdogan and main opposition leader Kilicdaroglu urged citizens to stay close to the ballot boxes until results are finalized.

“The full and correct manifestation of the will of the people depends on it,” Kilicdaroglu said in a tweet.

“It’s time to hold on tight to the ballot boxes,” Erdogan said.

Opposition Expects Record Turnout (5:05 p.m.)

The main opposition CHP estimates turnout was over 90% in Istanbul and at similar levels in the country as a whole, the party’s Istanbul Chair Canan Kaftancioglu said.

Turks living abroad have already voted in record numbers.

Turnout was 86% in the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Polls Close, Votes Being Counted (5 p.m.)

Polls closed across the country and election authorities started counting votes.

Erdogan Changes Travel Plans (3:30 p.m.)

The President has just arrived in the capital Ankara, after saying this morning he would follow the election results from Istanbul, where he voted.

There was no statement from his office on the change.

Ink Stains on Ballots (3:05 p.m.)

Turkey’s electoral board said it will comply with rules in determining whether to declare ballots valid or invalid during counting, after complaints by some parties that ink stains were detected on ballots in some provinces.

Polling officials were required to stamp the back of each ballot paper to verify its authenticity and in some cases the ink leaked into the front of the ballot, the board said in a statement.

Meter-Long Ballot (1:20 p.m.)

With 24 political parties running for parliament, the ballot paper in some areas is almost a meter long.

Some voters said they struggled to fit it into a single envelope with the separate presidential ballot.

Security Personnel on Alert (13:12 p.m.)

Over 600,000 members of the security forces are on duty for the election, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. Soylu oversees the nation’s police and paramilitary security forces.

Security concerns are running high after the opposition accused Russia of interfering in the vote, an accusation the Kremlin denied, and Twitter said it was restricting some content inside Turkey.

Voting Starts (8:00 a.m.)

Turks headed to the polls across the nation to elect a new president and members of the country’s 600-seat parliament. Among the 64 million people eligible to vote, around 5 million will be casting ballots for the first time.

--With assistance from Ugur Yilmaz and Tugce Ozsoy.

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