Thursday, 19 July, 2018


Read FP’s Coverage of Sunday’s Elections in Turkey

Erdogan seeks to cement power in Turkey's high-stakes votes Erdogan leads in Turkey’s presidential election – preliminary results
Bennie Garza | 24 June, 2018, 13:44

If he fails, he'll be forced into a July 8 runoff with the most successful opposition candidate, most likely Muharrem Ince of the secular Republican People's Party (CHP).

The victor of the presidential vote will gain sweeping new executive powers under a constitutional overhaul backed by incumbent, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turks vote on Sunday in snap twin presidential and parliamentary elections called by Erdogan one-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, with the president seeking a first round victory for a new mandate and a strong parliamentary majority.

Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend an election rally in Istanbul, Turkey, June 23, 2018. And the economy is struggling: The Turkish lira is down 20 percent this year and inflation is running at 18 percent.

"Let this immorality be an example to the world", said Mr Ince, who said he had held 107 rallies around Turkey in the 51 days since his candidacy was announced.

Meanwhile, former physics teacher Ince built up a national following with lacerating attacks on Erdogan's rule, bringing up near-taboos like the AKP's past cooperation with the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 failed coup.

"Ince's wit, audacity, ability to poke holes through Erdogan's narrative and connect with Turks beyond the traditional base of his secularist CHP has flustered Erdogan and his team", said Anthony Skinner, head of MENA at Verisk Maplecroft.

The rallies and campaign vans have fallen silent, along with broadcast electioneering, hours before Turkey's polls are due to open.

On Saturday police said at least 1 million people turned out in Istanbul's Maltepe district to hear Mr Ince promise to reverse - if he wins the presidency - what he sees as Turkey's turn towards more authoritarian rule under Mr Erdogan.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won 12 electoral contests in the last 16 years. Voting began at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and will end at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT).

The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.

Selahattin Demirtas, another presidential candidate who heads the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), called on people to vote for his party. If the HDP exceeds the 10 per cent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority. A delegation of observers from the OSCE will also be in place.

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