Pres. Erdogan facing tough challenge in upcoming election

Jun 24, 2018, 14:37
Pres. Erdogan facing tough challenge in upcoming election

He lashed out at Ince, who has vowed to camp outside the headquarters of Turkey's election commission Sunday to ensure a fair count.

After casting his ballot in his jail in the northwestern region of Edirne, Demirtas wrote on Twitter: "I wish that everyone uses their vote for the sake of the future and democracy of the country".

President Tayyip Erdogan and his main challenger, Muharrem Ince, have made a final push for support at rival rallies in Istanbul, a day before presidential and parliamentary elections that are widely viewed as the most crucial in Turkey for decades. Voting began at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and will end at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT).

The victor of Sunday's presidential contest will acquire sweeping new executive powers under a constitutional overhaul backed by Erdogan and endorsed past year by a narrow majority of Turks in a referendum.

Stay with us throughout Sunday for all of the latest from Turkey's elections, for which Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs more than 50 per cent of the presidential vote to secure re-election outright.

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A woman votes at a polling station in a school during elections in Istanbul, Turkey, June 24, 2018.

"If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to".

That figure could not be independently verified, though images circulating on social media showed vast crowds of people assembled to hear Mr Ince speak.

Turkey has been under emergency rule since a failed coup attempt in 2016, after which the government launched a sweeping crackdown on opponents and those it said participated in the rebellion. According to the latest United Nations figures, some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more sacked in the crackdown.

But in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP's presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

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"The opposition will not be a nuisance anymore with the new presidential system", said another Erdogan supporter, retired sailor Engin Ozmen, 60.

"This is no longer a Turkey we want".

She and others in the city said they voted for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) so that it exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament.

Erdogan, who defends his tough measures as essential for national security, told his supporters at rallies on Saturday that if re-elected he would press ahead with more of the big infrastructure projects that have helped turn Turkey into one of the world's fastest-growing economies during his time in office. If it does so, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.

The men agreed that their children were too young to "truly remember" the bad days before Mr Erdogan, which is why the younger generation are supporters of the Kurdish HDP.

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