Turkey votes in pivotal test for Erdogan

Turkey votes in pivotal test for Erdogan

Turkey votes in pivotal test for Erdogan

More than 56 million people were registered to vote at 180,000 ballot boxes across Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a commanding lead in his bid Sunday (this morning NZT) for a presidency with broadly expanded powers, according to partial results reported by the country's state-run news agency that showed him with more than 50 per cent of the vote - enough to avoid a runoff.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed in a phone conversation on Monday their mutual interest in boosting partnership ties between the two countries, the Kremlin press service said.

Sunday's polls are the first since Turkey switched to a presidential system of governance after an April 2017 constitutional referendum.

Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, moved the elections forward from November 2019, arguing the new powers would better enable him to tackle the nation's mounting 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. Fear will continue to reign.

The state of emergency has been in place since July 2016 following a failed deadly coup blamed by the government on the movement of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based self-exiled religious leader. "If Ince wins, the courts will be independent".

Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies involvement in the attempted coup, in which at least 240 people were killed. The United Nations say some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked.

As a long-time human rights activist, Paylan has been outspoken on issues of minority community rights, including the right of the Armenian community to hold unimpeded elections for a Patriarch in Istanbul, and more recently introduced legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, which was rejected by the ruling AKP party. This part was likely a dig at president Trump, as the White House is now working to set up a call between Trump and Erdogan to "reaffirm our strong bond", Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.

Ince vowed to spend the night at the headquarters of Turkey's election authority in Ankara to ensure a fair count and urged supporters to stay in polling stations until the final vote was counted.

"We're good", Erdogan said an hour earlier in Istanbul, though he declined to speculate on the outcome. Religiously observant Muslims form the bedrock of Erdogan's support.

"Justice has been served!" said Cihan Yigici, an Erdogan supporter in the crowd. If the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10 percent minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority.

Trailing were Meral Aksener of the nationalist (Iyi) Good Party with over seven percent and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) with nearly eight percent.

Voter turnout in the presidential election was 86.82 percent and parliamentary turnout was 87 percent, according to state broadcaster TRT.

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