Turkey: AK Party urges respect for election results

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks new term with greater powers

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks new term with greater powers

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had 55.08 percent of the vote with 70.5 percent of the votes counted in Turkey's presidential election on Sunday, broadcasters said.

Ince, head of the Republican People's Party and the main opposition presidential candidate, urged monitors and citizens to protect ballot boxes on voting day against fraud.

Nationalist candidate Meral Aksener, nicknamed the "she-wolf" by her admirers, leads the Iyi party and is seen by many as the only viable alternative to Erdogan in a country that is becoming increasingly conservative.

As he cast his vote, Erdogan said the changes marked a "democratic revolution", although his opponents regard the most recent phase of his rule differently.

People arrive at a polling station to vote in snap twin Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in the Kurdish stronghold of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on June 24, 2018.

Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT (10.30 IST) and were due to close at 1400 GMT (7.30pm IST), with the first results expected late in the evening.

Republican Peoples Party's (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem Ince speaks to the press at a polling station in Yalova on June 24, 2018.

Opposition parties and NGOs said they were deploying half a million monitors at ballot boxes to prevent fraud.

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Voting in Istanbul along with his son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan said he expected turnout to be strong, in an indication of "how mature democracy is in Turkey". "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilizations".

However, if the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) crosses the 10 per cent hurdle, the AKP alliance may lose its absolute majority in parliament.

Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, argues the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation's economic problems - the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year - and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

He brought forward the elections from November 2019, but he reckoned without Mr. Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralised and divided opposition.

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 has pledged to lift the state of emergency after the elections.

"Ince's wit, audacity, ability to poke holes through Erdogan's narrative and connect with Turks beyond the traditional base of his secularist CHP has flustered Erdogan and his team", said Anthony Skinner, head of MENA at Verisk Maplecroft. If it does so, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.

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.

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