Published: Mon, June 25, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Erdogan leads after early results in Turkey

Erdogan leads after early results in Turkey

Voting has started. After 15 years in power that have already seen Turkey transformed, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to win a new mandate and rank as the key figure of his country's modern history alongside its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The main opposition party did not immediately concede defeat.

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

As a goodwill gesture, he dropped the cases following a failed military coup in 2016.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including 3 million expatriates, were eligible to vote.

The stakes are particularly high as the new president will be the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

State media also reported on Sunday that Erdogan's AK Party holds 43 percent, while the opposition party holds 23 percent of the vote, with 96 percent of the total vote counted. Eight parties are bidding for 600 parliamentary seats.

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"This sets the stage for speeding up reforms", Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek tweeted of the results.

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. It reached 4.587 lira to the dollar at 12:17 a.m. (2117 GMT) before easing slightly.

Republican Peoples Party's (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem Ince greets people after casting his ballot at a polling station during the parliamentary and presidential elections, in Yalova on June 24, 2018.

Opposition parties and non-governmental organizations say they plan to deploy more than half a million monitors and volunteers at ballot boxes across Turkey on Sunday to prevent fraud.

These elections were originally scheduled for November 2019 but were brought forward by Mr Erdogan.

His supporters say only Erdogan can guarantee Turkey's economic and political stability in hard times.

"According to these. I have been entrusted by the nation with the task and duties of the presidency", Erdogan said at his Istanbul residence, adding that the alliance led by his Justice and Development Party (AKP) had won the majority in parliament.

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Polls heading into the vote suggested the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party could lose parliamentary majority, which could hamper Erdogan's ability to power Turkey's new executive presidency.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, was passing the 10 percent threshold required to enter parliament with 11.2 percent.

Election turnout nationwide was very high at around 87 per cent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.

Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, has faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before.

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The opposition, however, is contesting the results of Sunday's twin elections, the first time Turkey held simultaneous presidential and parliamentary polls. This state restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees. Erdogan accused his late ally and now nemesis, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the coup.

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

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