Polls open in Turkey’s presidential runoff

Voters in Turkey returned to the polls Sunday to decide whether the country’s longtime leader stretches his rule into a third decade or is unseated by a challenger who has promised to restore a more democratic society.

Turks across the country are heading to the polls for a second-round presidential vote, choosing between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Turks will be electing a president for a five-year term.

Erdogan, 69, defied opinion polls and came out comfortably ahead with an almost five-point lead over his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round on May 14. But he fell just short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff.

Voting began at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and will finish at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT). The outcome was expected to start becoming clear by early evening.

More than 64 million Turks are eligible to cast ballots at nearly 192,000 polling stations, including more than six million who were first-time voters on May 14.

In the first round of voting on May 14, Erdogan got 49.5 percent of support. Kilicdaroglu, the main opposition challenger, received 44.9 percent.

Last week, third-place candidate Sinan Ogan, who won 5% of the first-round vote, publicly endorsed Erdogan, further boosting the strongman leader’s chances of winning Sunday’s second and final presidential round.

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