Turkey faces runoff election with Erdogan leading

STORY: Turkey is headed for a run-off vote in two weeks' time, after neither Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu won an outright majority in Sunday's election.

The results reflect the deep polarization in a country at a political crossroads.

Erdogan has led the NATO member for twenty years and the vote was seen as a verdict on his increasingly authoritarian path.

Kilicdaroglu, who leads a six-party opposition alliance determined to unseat him, urged his supporters to be patient and accused Erdogan's party of interfering with the counting and reporting of results.

He said he will win in the runoff against Erdogan.

Erdogan, who performed better than pre-election polls had predicted, appeared in a confident and combative mood.

Addressing his supporters in Ankara, he claimed to be millions of votes ahead of his competitor, but stopped short of declaring an outright victory.

The election was held against the backdrop of soaring inflation and in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes.

Now the country of 85 million people faces two weeks of uncertainty that could rattle markets.

The question of who eventually becomes Turkey's next president will reverberate well beyond its borders.

As one of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies, a defeat for Erdogan would likely unnerve the Kremlin but comfort the Biden administration, as well as many European and Middle Eastern leaders who had troubled relations with Erdogan.