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What is a run-off election, how will it work in Turkey and what is a kingmaker?

In two weeks, after a close race between the main presidential candidates in Turkey, voters will go back to the polls to decide who will lead their country.

What does it mean that the election went to a runoff vote?

What does a runoff election mean?

Run-off elections are held when there is no clear winner in the first round. This is determined by the constitution of a particular country.


Candidates who receive the most votes advance to a subsequent vote.

The run-off election in Turkey will take place two weeks after first round on 28 May.

What is happening in Turkey today?

The Turkish Presidential election will be decided by a runoff, after the two leading candidates failed to reach the 50% threshold which would have placed them in office.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu received 45% of the votes, while Recep Tayyip Erdogan obtained 49.4%.

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Turkey: A tie between candidates

What does a kingmaker have to do with this?

Second round: Candidates with a smaller share of votes are eliminated. However, they can still play a vital role in the runoff election by supporting one of the candidates.

Sinan Ogan is the kingmaker in Turkey. In the Turkish presidential election, he came in third with 5.2% – an amount that could be a major factor for either Mr Erdogan or Mister Kilicdaroglu.

Mr Ogan was the nominee for ATA – an alliance of Turkish ultranationalist parties, led by the Victory Party.

He stated that his aim was to remove two parties, mainly Kurdish, from Turkey’s political equation.

Both candidates for president have received the support of Kurdish parties: Mr. Kilicdaroglu from the pro-Kurdish HDP, and Mr. Erdogan from the Kurdish-Islamist Huda-Par.

Mr Ogan stated that he has not met with either presidential candidate since the election but indicated he was open to negotiation “based upon their principles”.

If he supported either candidate in the runoff, the 5,2% who supported him Sunday could have pushed Mr Kilicdaroglu to the front or made Mr Erdogan impossible to reach.

Click here to read more

Turkey’s voters are undecided. A joker in the group may decide for them

After Erdogan fails to win majority, the presidential race will go to a run-off.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Mr Erdogan’s left hand, in 2016. Photo: AP

Which countries have run-off elections?

84 countries use the two-round method to select their head of state.

Last year, Brazil’s run-off elections were polarised when the far-right incumbent Jairbolsonaro faced off against Luiz inacio Lula da Silva. Luiz won.

In Chile’s election of 2021, the far-right candidates and social-democratic candidate faced off in a second-round vote. Gabriel Boric, a leftist, won 56%.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, was elected in a runoff. He won it with 73%.


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