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Breakaway candidate has enough votes to take Turkey’s presidential election to 2nd round: poll

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Leader of the opposition Homeland Party Muharrem İnce, whose candidacy in the upcoming presidential election is feared to divide votes among Turkey’s opposition, would have had enough votes to take an April race to a second round, local media reported on Wednesday, citing Turkey Report Director Can Selçuki.

İnce, whose blunt speeches and impromptu dances have drawn social media attention, broke away from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) two years ago and formed the Homeland Party after twice failing to become CHP leader. He announced in March that he would run in the May 14 presidential election. The politician qualified to run in the race by collecting 111,301 signatures, the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) announced later the same month.

A person who is over the age of 40, has a university degree and meets the criteria to be elected a member of parliament can be nominated as a presidential candidate, either by 100,000 voters who sign petitions supporting their candidacy or by the nomination of a political party that has a parliamentary group or received at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote in the latest elections.

İnce will be running as a presidential candidate in addition to current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties.

Many say if İnce stands as a candidate in the presidential election, his candidacy could weaken Kılıçdaroğlu’s chances of winning since his likely voters will be from among people supporting Kılıçdaroğlu, not Erdoğan.

Selçuki on Wednesday tweeted information about the results of Turkey Report’s April poll, saying İnce would have had enough votes to take the presidential election to a second round, thereby contributing to Erdoğan’s chances of winning, if the race were to be held in April.

If İnce manages to secure a significant portion of the opposition vote in the May election, neither Kılıçdaroğlu nor Erdoğan may achieve the required 50 percent majority, necessitating a second round. This scenario would provide Erdoğan with a critical two-week window in which to deploy various strategies to sway public opinion, such as manipulating the exchange rate through central bank interventions and stoking fears of an economic collapse should he leave office. The opposition, thus, is desperate to secure a victory in the first round to prevent any such maneuvers.

Selçuki also said the poll showed a decline in the rate of undecided voters as well as an increase in the votes of both the CHP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

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