Slated to be held on May 14, 2023, Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are less than a month away. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round, a second round will be held two weeks later, on May 28. This is likely to happen, as the most recent opinion polls conducted in April reveal that none of the presidential candidates are expected to receive over 50 percent of the vote in the first round.
Before the opposition bloc announced CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu as its presidential candidate, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu were seen as the most likely candidates to beat President Erdogan according to public opinion polls. Nonetheless, Kilicdaroglu proclaimed his candidacy with the support of the opposition’s six-party bloc, even though this was not initially supported by the entire opposition. Still, after Imamoglu was indicted in December 2022, the opposition coalesced behind his candidacy.
Public support for Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy has risen in step with the consolidation of endorsements from the opposition. The reputable public polling firm Metropol saw respondents who believed Kilicdaroglu could be elected increase from 31.7 percent in December to 38.2 percent in January. This rose further in March to 42.9 percent and again in April to 45.2 percent.
Nonetheless, this increase does not translate to an outright lead. According to Metropol, Kilicdaroglu trails Erdogan by just 1.5 percent, meaning that they are expected to capture 42.6 percent and 41.1 percent of the vote respectively. When considering the poll’s 1.9 percent margin of error, the difference between the leading candidates is minimal, revealing no clear frontrunner. The poll also indicates that former 2018 CHP presidential candidate Muharrem Ince is garnering 5 percent of the vote, likely siphoning votes from Kilicdaroglu.
In their April, two polling firms close to the ruling AKP, Optimar and Saros, also show the two candidates within 2 percentage points of each other, albeit with Erdogan in the lead. Optimar shows Ince with 8.3 percent of the vote, his highest projection so far. Saros shows Erdogan with 46.8 percent of the vote, compared to Kilicdaroglu’s 45.7 percent and Ince’s 6 percent.
In summary, public support for the two leading candidates is nearly evenly divided, making it extremely difficult to identify a clear frontrunner. Ince, a former presidential candidate for the CHP, is likely taking votes away from Kilicdaroglu; his candidacy could be enough to force the elections into a second round.
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