Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

This is a particularly important and tense part, especially after claims following the 2017 referendum on consolidating all executive powers in the presidency, which was won by the campaign led by President Tayyip Erdoğan with a rather narrow difference: 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent.

"Turkey", he said, "is staging a democratic revolution".

He said he had no doubt the election results would be "very good".

The former physics teacher, who has pledged to end what he calls Erdogan's "one-man rule", claimed the gathering attracted 5 million people, although no official estimates were available.

His main challenger, Muharrem Ince, also held a rally in Istanbul.

Turks began voting today in dual parliamentary and presidential polls seen as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's toughest election test, with the opposition revitalised and his popularity at risk from growing economic troubles.

"I voted for the AKP for the future of my children, but my children voted HDP", said one man, adding that he voted for Mr Erdogan over fears that if the president is not again elected, he will start another war in Diyarbakir.

The victory allows Erdogan to further consolidate political power and implement the constitutional reforms.

"With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations".

Voter fairness NGO Oy Ve Otesi (Vote and Beyond), was founded in 2014 and said its ability to mobilise volunteers to monitor voting at polling stations has increased with every election, as more Turks become engaged in the voting process.

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"Every shadow cast over the election is a blow to our democracy".

Speaking to reporters in front of the High Electoral Board (YSK), Ince warned members of the YSK to "do your job the right way" and not leave their stations without signed results.

YSK chairman Sadi Guven told Anadolu it was taking steps in response to reports of irregularities in Sanliurfa's Suruc town, near the Syrian border.

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.

But in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

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. All we want is a fair competition. The CHP had 19% and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) 9%. "Rights are violated, democracy is in awful shape", said health sector worker Sema, 50, after voting in Istanbul.

Erdogan and AKP supporters have dismissed allegations they will tamper with the election results, highlighting that those claims contradicted the opposition's insistence that the AKP will lose its majority. Erdogan needs over 50% to retain the presidency in the first round, but these are still early results and the outcome could yet change.

Nor is Erdoğan's continued rule as president secure, as the opposition may succeed in forcing him into a run-off against their front-runner candidate Muharrem Ince on July 8.

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