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FirstFT: Turkish presidential race too tight to call

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Today’s big story is Turkey’s elections, with current leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu locked in a tight battle for the presidency this morning as the election count suggests rising odds of an unprecedented second round.

Both Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu, who leads a six-party opposition alliance, have claimed to be ahead in Sunday’s race and warned against drawing conclusions from the preliminary vote count.

But neither side appeared to be in line to clinch the majority required to win the contest outright, suggesting the presidential election would go to a run-off in two weeks’ time.

Erdoğan secured just under 50 per cent of the vote, compared with 45 per cent for Kılıçdaroğlu, according to figures collated by the state-run Anadolu news agency, based on the count from 96 per cent of ballot boxes.

Erdoğan, who first carried the Justice and Development party to power in 2002, faced his toughest campaign as he sparred with Kılıçdaroğlu in a race that both candidates portrayed as a battle for the future of Turkey.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on:

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

  • Economic data: The EU releases its spring economic forecast for gross domestic product, inflation, employment and public finances.

  • France: President Emmanuel Macron hosts the Choose France summit to promote investment in the country. Read his FT opinion piece here.

  • UK: The National Conservatism Conference begins in London, with home secretary Suella Braverman and MP Jacob Rees-Mogg among the speakers.

  • Middle East: Protests are expected in Ramallah on the West Bank 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. Energy costs for consumers could drop by £1.1bn a year if the UK co-operated more effectively with Europe on electricity trading and carbon pricing, according to Energy UK. Here’s how “inefficient trading” arrangements have led households to pay more since 2021.

2. Italy is trying to spend €200bn of the EU’s Covid-19 recovery funds in hopes of avoiding wasteful projects and failing to spend the money in time. With the largest share of pandemic EU funds, the country has struggled to find worthy projects it can execute by the June 2026 deadline.

3. Almost half of the companies on the UK’s FTSE 350 index do not have a publicly available code of ethics, fuelling concern that staff will not feel safe sounding the alarm over misconduct. The number of groups that publish their ethics codes is significantly lower in the mid-cap FTSE 250 than in the blue-chip FTSE 100, according to the Institute of Business Ethics.

4. TotalEnergies investors should back a resolution urging the French oil major to do more for the climate, proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended. Here are details of the resolution that activist investors are calling on shareholders to support.

5. Maverick fund manager James Anderson is returning to full-time investing a year after retiring from Baillie Gifford. Lingotto Investment Management has appointed Anderson to launch a new fund focused on innovation in public and private markets, starting with about $500mn in assets.

The Big Read

Ben Houchen insists a plan to redevelop an old steel plant will bring new jobs © FT montage/Getty Images

Ben Houchen, mayor of Teesside in north-east England, is a rising star in the Conservative party, but opponents have accused him of cronyism after a 90 per cent stake in the operator of the community’s largest vacant steel site was transferred to two local developers without any public tender process. An investigation by the FT has found that the developers earned at least £45mn in dividends from the project, yet there is no evidence they have invested in it to date.

We’re also reading . . . 

Chart of the day

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The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer has stopped growing and begun to close in recent years, according to Nasa’s Ozone Watch. A UN panel says 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 the late rocker’s London home.

Freddy Mercury ‘chose everything, from the tiniest detail, exactly as he wanted’, says Mary Austin © Max Miechowski

Additional contributions by Tee Zhuo and Emily Goldberg

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Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime Editor