ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s Supreme Election Board on Friday confirmed the results of the first round of Turkey’s presidential election in which neither incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main challenger, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, receiving the majority support needed for an outright victory.
The electoral board announced that Erdogan secured 49.24% of the vote, with Kilicdaroglu getting 45.07% and a third candidate, nationalist politician Sinan Ogan, receiving 5.28%, necessitating a runoff election on May 28 between the top two contenders.
Ogan, a former academic who was backed by an anti-migrant party, might hold the key to victory in the runoff now that he’s out of the race.
Speaking to Turkish media earlier this week, Ogan listed the conditions to earn his support. Among them are taking a tough stance against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as creating a timeline for sending back millions of refugees, including nearly 3.7 million Syrians.
The PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey, is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
On Thursday, Kilicdaroglu shifted from his more inclusive, soft-toned rhetoric to appeal to nationalist voters, vowing to send back millions of refugees and rejecting any possibility of negotiating for peace with Kurdish militants.
Meanwhile, speaking to CNN International in an interview broadcast on Friday, Erdogan said he would not bend to Ogan’s demands: “I’m not a person who likes to negotiate in such a manner. It will be the people who are the kingmakers.”
Yet on Friday a surprise meeting between Erdogan and Ogan took place at the former’s Istanbul office. No statement was made following the nearly one-hour meeting.