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Erdogan, ruling AK Party build early lead in Turkish elections

24 June, 2018, 22:11 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks new term with greater powers

Opposition parties and NGOs have said they were deploying half a million monitors at ballot boxes to prevent fraud. The second phase is the transparent counting and recording of the votes in each ballot box and conveying the results to the local stations without any intervention in the sealed vote bags.

State-run Anadolu Agency reported that three French nationals were arrested in Ağrı province, three Germans in Şırnak, three Italians in Diyarbakır and another Italian in Batman, all in Turkey's east and southeast.

If the HDP exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.

Some opposition supporters have therefore opted for a tactical vote - casting their ballot for the HDP despite favoring another party.

Polling stations closed at 5 pm (1400 GMT).

Erdogan has served as president since 2014 - Turkey's first popularly elected president.

Votes were cast in 180,065 polling places across the country.

Results being compiled by the Fair Election Platform, formed by opposition parties, also pointed to Erdogan winning the presidency in the first round with about 53 percent.

Emotions are running high today as the vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency that is only backed by a small majority of Turks who say the new system of government will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member country.

He said told his followers: "If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to, fear will continue to reign".

Erdogan, 64, is seeking re-election for a five-year term and the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is vying to retain its majority in parliament.

Almost 60 million Turks, including more than 3 million expatriates, are eligible to vote in the elections for the presidency and for 600 parliamentary seats.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won 12 electoral contests in the last 16 years.

Erdogan's announcement came a day after Devlet Bahceli, chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) called for early elections to be held on August 26, 2018. "But our military operation in Syria and the historically significant regional developments in Syria and Iraq made it compulsory for Turkey to overcome the uncertainties", said Erdogan.

"God willing, Turkey will start flying with this system".

Erdogan's main presidential rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) urged election monitors to remain at polling stations to help ensure against possible election fraud.

Erdoğan, too, cast his vote in Üsküdar on Sunday.

Erdogan counters that view, saying "Turkey is staging a democratic revolution".

Kurds make up about 18 percent of Turkey's 78 million people, mostly in eastern regions, and are expected to play a key role in deciding the outcome of the parliamentary elections.

Six candidates are vying for the Turkish presidency.

Still, Erdogan - who has been in power since 2003 - is facing a more robust, united opposition this time.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including some 3 million living overseas, were eligible to vote.

Expatriate votes have been brought to Turkey by airmail and they will be counted at the same time as the votes cast in Turkey.

Voting at Turkish customs gates with adjoining countries, which began on June 7, has also ended.

The ban includes opinion-driven news or comments and opinion columns in all media outlets in the country.

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