Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Voting officially ends in Turkey with AK Party leading

Voting officially ends in Turkey with AK Party leading

President Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) received 44 percent of the votes in the Turkish parliamentary elections with more than 60 percent of the total votes counted as the People's Alliance formed between the AK Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) receiving 55.6 percent of the vote.

Analysts say the opposition's performance is all the more troubling for the authorities given how the campaign has been slanted in favor of Erdogan, who has dominated media airtime. "Take all your friends, relatives to the ballot box", he said. Left and right: Voters casting their ballots this morning.

Earlier, 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.

State-run Anadolu Agency reported that three French nationals were arrested in Ağrı province, three Germans in Şırnak, three Italians in Diyarbakır and another Italian in Batman, all in Turkey's east and southeast.

Emotions are running high today as the vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency that is only backed by a small majority of Turks who say the new system of government will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member country.

Voting is under way in Turkey's crucial parliamentary and presidential elections, pitting a strongman leader who has transformed the country's political system against a resurgent opposition warning of "one-man rule".

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In Suruc, the scene of deadly clashes between CHP and AKP suppoters 10 days before the vote, Tezcan said "armed people" were "running around openly and threatening the electoral atmosphere".

Around 531,007 security personnel, including 264,526 police officers, 195,695 gendarmerie officers, 50,793 village guards and 19,993 voluntary village guards were on duty.

The president, however, is facing a more robust and united opposition, which has vowed to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances.

Erdogan won the last presidential election in 2014 after completing two terms as prime minister. 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.

With about half of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 57 percent, well ahead of his closest rival, Muharrem Ince, of the main opposition, secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), on 29 percent, broadcasters said.

"It's urgent for Turkey to shift to the new system in order to make decisions and take concrete steps regarding our future".

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And Aksener cast her vote in Istanbul, before she travelled to Ankara where she said she would follow election results. Initiated by "Oy ve Ötesi" (Vote and Beyond) a few years ago, there are now dozens of such groups organizing tens and thousands of volunteers across the country - either to sign up as ballot observers from the lists of political parties or as independent observers, as permitted by Turkish election law.

For the first time, bedridden voters - more than 17,000 - are being visited at their homes by election officials who will pick up their ballots.

Six candidates are vying for the Turkish presidency.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including some 3 million living overseas, were eligible to vote.

Balloting at customs gates that began on June 7 and will end on June 24.

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