Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Polls open in Turkey’s presidential elections

Polls opened on Sunday in Turkey’s fiercely fought presidential and parliamentary elections that could bring an end to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year rule.

Presidential and parliamentary votes are being held, deciding not only who leads Turkey, a NATO-member country of 85 million, but also how it is governed and where its economy is headed amid a deep cost of living crisis.

The race poses the biggest challenge yet to Turkey’s strongman leader. He faces economic headwinds and criticism that the impact of the devastating February 6 earthquake was made worse by lax building controls and a shambolic rescue effort.

Opinion polls give Erdogan’s main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads an alliance of six opposition parties, a slight lead, but if either fails to get more than 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff election on May 28.

Kilicdaroglu has promised to fix Turkey’s faltering economy and restore democratic institutions compromised by a slide to authoritarianism during Erdogan’s tenure.

On Thursday, Kilicdaroglu was boosted further by the late withdrawal from the race of a minor candidate, Muharrem Ince. Ince had low polling numbers but some opposition figures feared he would split the anti-Erdogan vote.

Turkey holds elections every five years. Over 64.1 million people are registered to vote. A total of 191,885 ballot boxes have been set across the country.

More than 1.8 million voters living abroad already cast their votes on April 17, according to the country’s deputy foreign minister.

Every voter will be casting two ballots, one for the president and the other for parliamentarians, both of whom will serve five-year terms.

People who came to vote in Turkey’s general election are banned from entering polling booths with mobile phones and cameras, Turkish media has reported.

observers report a high voter turnout across all Turkish cities. Turnout in Turkish elections is generally high. In 2018, nearly 87 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Ahmet Yener, head of the Supreme Election Council, said voting continues in Turkey with no issues reported.

“It is clear that this election will witness a higher percentage vote participation than the previous elections,” he continued, adding, “People are waiting at polling station gates to cast their votes, and people are still flocking to the polling stations.”

Supporters swarm presidential candidates Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu, as the two vote in their respective strongholds of Istanbul and Ankara.

What candidates said after casting ballots?

Erdogan:

“The voting continues across Turkey without any issues. The most important thing was that people in the earthquake zones were able to cast their votes and this is happening now. Turning up for voting is important to show the strength of Turkish democracy. God willing, it will be a calm day for the good of Turkish democracy,” Erdogan stated.

Speaking to reporters, Erdogan expresses hope that the outcome of the polls would be beneficial for the country.

“My hope to God is that after the counting concludes this evening, the outcome is good for the future of our country, for Turkish democracy,” he added.

Polls open in Turkey’s presidential elections

Kilicdaroglu:

Leading opposition figure and head of the People’s Republican Party (CHP), Kilicdaroglu, has referred to his famous campaign slogan “I promise spring will come” after casting his ballot.

“All of us missed democracy, we missed being all together. You will see the spring will come to this country after today and springs will always continue,” he stated.

Polls open in Turkey’s presidential elections

Sinan Ogan

“I want to call on all our citizens, please go to polls and cast your votes. Let’s have a calm and peaceful election day all together today,” he said.

 

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