Turkey heads to polls for 2nd time since Erdogan imposed emergency rule

Turkey heads to polls for 2nd time since Erdogan imposed emergency rule

Turkey's President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks at his ballot before casting his vote at a polling station in Istanbul on June 24, 2018.

But both these goals are in doubt in the face of an energetic campaign by his rival from the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince, who has mobilised hundreds of thousands in mega rallies, and a strong opposition alliance in the legislative polls.

The results from local broadcasters also showed that the AKP's ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), had 11.37 percent of votes.

Earlier on Sunday, a crowd of Erdogan's supporters chanted his name as he emerged from a school after voting in Turkey's largest city Istanbul, shaking hands with people amid tight security.

Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations. If a candidate wins just over 50 percent of the vote, he will win the presidency, but if not, there will be a runoff on July 8. All we want is a fair competition.

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. But critics accuse the Turkish strongman, 64, of trampling on civil liberties and autocratic behaviour.

According to Skynews, on Saturday, up to a million people turned out for one of the last opposition campaign rallies ahead of Sunday's elections.

The results will transform Turkey's parliamentary governance system to a powerful, new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in the referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule.

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Turkey has been under emergency rule - which restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees - for almost two years since an attempted coup in 2016.

Erdogan, whose mastery of political rhetoric is acknowledged even by critics, has won a dozen elections, but is now fighting against the backdrop of increasing economic woes.

Inflation has zoomed well into double digits - with popular concern over sharp rises in staples like potatoes and onions - while the Turkish lira has lost some 25 per cent in value against the USA dollar this year. "But this year I have a lot more faith, but we'll see", said Hulya Ozdemiral as she cast her ballot in Istanbul.

The votes of Turkey's Kurdish minority will be especially crucial in the parliamentary poll.

In the opposition camp, the CHP had 22 percent and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) 10 percent - the threshold it needs to reach to enter parliament.

More than 50 million voters will head to the polls on Sunday to choose both the president and representatives to the Parliament.

The HDP's presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, has waged his election campaign from a prison near the Greek border as he awaits trial on terrorism-related charges, which he denies.

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