(Bloomberg) -- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is leading Sunday’s runoff vote with a comfortable margin, setting the stage for a victory that will extend his more than two-decade rule by another five years.
The country’s longest-serving leader had 52.2% of the votes with more than 97% of ballot boxes counted, while his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu had 47.8%.
Erdogan’s alliance won a majority in a parliamentary election two weeks ago, giving the president the momentum going into the head-to-head. Kilicdaroglu represents a broad opposition coalition that includes social democrats, nationalists and former allies of Erdogan.
The outcome will be pivotal for financial markets, and indeed the $900 billion Turkish economy. Foreign money flooded into Turkey’s equity and debt markets during Erdogan’s first decade in power, but investors exited in recent years as the government pursued a growth-at-all-costs economic policy that crippled the currency. The lira slumped to new record lows in recent days.
Erdogan, 69, has promised to stick with his approach, which includes calling for lower interest rates despite rampant inflation. Kilicdaroglu, 74, who garnered 45% of the vote in the first round, said he would return to a more orthodox economic policy and fight corruption.
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(All times Istanbul, GMT+3)
Erdogan on Brink of Another Electoral Victory (7:52 p.m.)
Erdogan received 26.5 million votes with more than 97% of ballot boxes counted, according to state news agency Anadolu. Against Erdogan’s 52.2%, his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu had 47.8%. The difference between the two candidates was almost 2.2 million votes, according to Anadolu.
Vice President Fuat Oktay, Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati and Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop congratulated Erdogan for his victory before the count was concluded.
Erdogan Holds Lead as Count Nears End (7:31 p.m.)
Erdogan’s lead narrowed but he remained ahead with 52.3% of the vote and 95.2% of ballot boxes opened.
Kilicdaroglu had 47.7%, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Erdogan Takes Comfortable Lead (6:20 p.m.)
Erdogan had 56.4% of the votes with 49.4% of all ballot boxes counted nationwide. Kilicdaroglu had 43.6% of the votes, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.
Polls Close (5:00 p.m.)
After nine hours of voting in the presidential election, polls across the nation closed. About 50,000 people were added to the electorate since the first round on May 14. About 64 million were eligible to vote.
The first results will be aired after the election watchdog lifts a broadcast ban at 9 p.m. It may decide to do that earlier.
Candidates Urge Turks to Vote (12:17 p.m.)
Both leaders urged Turks to vote after casting their own ballots on Sunday. “I ask my citizens to participate without reaching complacency until the last moment,” Erdogan said after voting in Istanbul.
People should choose “to get rid of oppression, to get rid of an authoritarian rule,” Kilicdaroglu said in Ankara. “We have faced all kinds of defamation, all kinds of slander, but I trust the common sense of the people. Democracy will definitely come to this country.”
Kilicdaroglu also urged his supporters to watch the ballot boxes until results are finalized. The turnout in the first round was 87%.
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