Erdogan Takes the Lead in Turkey’s Run-off Elections: Live Updates and Results

In honor of four family members in March who were buried in a cemetery in Antakya, Turkey, in the aftermath of strong earthquakes.credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

osmaniye, turkey – when powerful earthquakes struck southern turkey on february 6, killing more than 50,000 people and destroying hundreds of thousands of buildings, many expected the disaster to hit president recep tayyip erdogan at the polls.

The massive destruction raised questions about whether his government’s rush to develop property had led to unsafe buildings, and many earthquake survivors complained that the government’s initial response was slow, leaving people trapped under rubble or shivering in the cold as they waited for food and shelter.

But the results of the first round of Turkey’s presidential election on May 14 – which set the stages for Sunday’s run-off – indicated the disaster had limited impact on how residents of the stricken region voted.

“I am definitely an Erdogan supporter,” said Eda Akgül, who was still living in a white tent near her destroyed home some four months after the earthquake.

She also survived a smaller earthquake in the southeastern province of Elazig in 2020, she said, and expected Mr Erdogan to help her now as he helped her then.

“Erdogan made really good contributions to the Aleazigs after the earthquake that happened there,” she said. Otherwise, the people would not have voted for him.

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Interviews with earthquake survivors indicated several reasons why the disaster did not change their political outlook. Some have described the earthquake as an act of God that any government would struggle to respond to. Some of those whose homes were destroyed said they believed in Mr. Erdogan to rebuild damaged areas more than they did in his rival, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Mr. Erdogan, who won 49.5 percent of the vote in the first round to Mr. Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9 percent, came ahead in eight of the 11 provinces affected by the February earthquake. His ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its political allies fared better, winning the majority of votes in simultaneous parliamentary elections in all but one of the quake-hit provinces.

Voter turnout in the quake zone was also high, despite fears that many voters displaced by the devastation will struggle to return home to cast their ballots. Although turnout in the 11 quake-affected counties was below the 88.9 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots nationally, none of these counties had turnout below 80 percent.

In Osmaniye, where Mrs. Akgül lives, the devastation left by the earthquake is evident. Empty spaces where once collapsed buildings dotted and blue and white tents sheltering earthquake survivors are dotted across the city.

Instead of voting based on the government’s response to the earthquake, residents said they were focusing on other issues.

Süleyman Asilturk, who runs a tobacco shop in the city centre, said he favors nationalist politicians like Mr Erdogan because of the city’s history of sending young men into the army to fight Kurdish militants who have been fighting the bloodiest for decades. The battle against the state for autonomy.

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“We have offered many martyrs,” said Mr. Asilturk, referring to the local soldiers killed in the battles. “Our vote will go to the Patriots again.”

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