FirstFT: Tight race for Turkish presidency

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Today’s big story is Turkey’s elections, with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu locked in tight race for Turkish presidency.

Both candidates claimed to be ahead, but the latest polling suggested neither had the 50 per cent needed to win outright, suggesting that the presidential election would go to a second round run-off in two weeks’ time.

Erdoğan has secured just under 50 per cent of the vote, compared with just 44 per cent for Kılıçdaroğlu, according to figures collated by the state Anadolu news agency, based on the count from 89 per cent of ballot boxes.

Anka, another news outlet, put Kılıçdaroğlu at 45 per cent and Erdoğan on 49 per cent, based on 90 per cent of ballot boxes.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s allies on Sunday objected to data provided by Anadolu, arguing that the calculations had excluded areas where the opposition had performed well and claimed that Erdoğan’s Justice and Development party (AKP) was slowing down the counting process by raising objections in opposition strongholds.

AKP spokesman Ömer Çelik, however, defended Anadolu, saying that it remained the main source for election reporting and that the “attacks” by Kılıçdaroğlu’s Republican People’s party (CHP) amounted to “propaganda”. He said it was too early to declare a winner, and called for patience.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on:

  • Beijing is sending a special envoy to visit Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France and Poland, starting today.

  • India’s April wholesale price index (WPI) inflation rate measure is released today.

  • Protests are expected in Ramallah on the West Bank today to mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, when Palestinians were forced from their villages or fled amid the war surrounding Israel’s creation.

Five more top stories

1. The G7 and EU will ban Russian gas imports on routes where Moscow has cut supplies, the first time pipeline gas trade has been blocked by western powers since the invasion of Ukraine.

2. Argentina plans emergency economic measures to avoid big devaluation, including raising interest rates 600 basis points to 97 per cent.

3. Thailand’s pro-democracy opposition parties have taken the lead in early polling results as voters delivered a rebuke to the military in a contest that could herald the country’s first transfer of power for a decade.

4. Shipping groups press Chinese counterparts for sanctions-proof contracts that would make it easier for them to walk away from deals if western governments impose sanctions on Beijing.

5. The Bharatiya Janata party concedes a crucial state election, dealing a rare political setback to prime minister Narendra Modi a year before a national poll.

Deep Dive

Tourism, which accounts for about one-fifth of Greece’s GDP, last year reached 97 per cent of pre-pandemic levels © Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

After years as Europe’s problem child, growth in Greece is now rocketing. More than a decade after bailouts and austerity measures pulled Greece from the brink of bankruptcy and a eurozone exit, the country has rebounded and is on the cusp of regaining its investment-grade rating. More on Greece’s ‘greatest turnround.’

We’re also reading and listening to. . . 

  • Shell’s Iraqi gas project: An Iranian company is the biggest beneficiary of a power plant poised to supply a Shell-backed gas project in Iraq. Here’s how Iran will profit.

  • A sanctioned ship’s journey: The FT has reconstructed the five-month covert journey that a sanctions-hit Russian cargo ship, Lady R, took to secretly transport weapons sought by Moscow.

  • FT Weekend Podcast: This week, host Lilah Raptopoulos sits down with Iranian-American artist Sheida Soleimani as she tells her family history through her photography, after years of creating political works.

Chart of the day

The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer has stopped growing and has begun to close in recent years, according to NASA’s Ozone Watch. According to a UN panel, the ozone layer should recover to pre-1980 levels by the middle of this century if current policies remain in place.

Take a break from the news

For three decades Mary Austin has been the custodian of Freddy Mercury’s art-filled house. Now she is finally ready to sell its contents. Take a look inside his London home in The Weekend Essay.

Mary Austin has been the custodian of Freddy Mercury’s art-filled house for three decades
Throughout the house, Mercury ‘chose everything, from the tiniest detail, exactly as he wanted’, says Austin © © Max Miechowski

Additional contributions by Tee Zhuo and Emily Goldberg

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