Erdogan leads in Turkey’s presidential election - preliminary results

Glen Norman
June 24, 2018

POLLS have opened in Turkey's joint presidential and parliamentary elections, seen as the biggest test at the ballot box for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his 15 years in power.

But he reckoned without Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralised and divided opposition.

Although the margin of their lead narrowed steadily as votes were tallied across the nation of 81 million people, an AK Party official said Erdogan was expected to win more than the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff.

The report added that Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has won 14.82 percent of the vote while voter turnout has been put at 86.82 percent for presidential and 87 percent for parliamentary elections.

CHP party spokesman Bulent Tezcan criticised state media coverage of the election results, saying they were trying to manipulate the public's perception of the results in order to demoralise Mr. Erdogan's opponents and encourage election monitors to stop scrutinising the counting of votes. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the press after casting his ballot at a polling station in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 24, 2018. There are no exit polls.

The rally, held in Istanbul, was in support of Muharrem Ince, the main competitor to President Erdogan.

Erdogan needs over 50 percent to retain the presidency in the first round but these are still early results and the outcome could yet change drastically.

"I hope for the best for our nation", said Ince as he cast his ballot in his native port town of Yalova south of Istanbul, vowing to spend the night at the headquarters of Turkey s election authority in Ankara to ensure a fair count. "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations". If the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10 percent minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority.

Opposition parties and NGOs deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to ward against possible electoral fraud.

Erdogan says his tough measures are needed to safeguard national security.

The AKP government imposed emergency law after the 2016 coup attempt and has extended it seven times since.

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations. He won nearly 10 percent of the vote in the last election, and if he were to get a bigger percentage this time, the ruling coalition may lose its majority.

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