Voting officially ends in Turkey with AK Party leading

Voting officially ends in Turkey with AK Party leading

Voting officially ends in Turkey with AK Party leading

Preliminary results from Turkey's parliamentary election on Sunday put President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party at 55.2 percent of the vote, with 7.41 percent of the votes counted, Reuters reported CNN Turk and other local broadcasters as saying.

But he reckoned without Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralized and divided opposition.

If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent in Sunday's vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8.

A number of men, in their 60s, say that they voted for Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) because "the violence in [the Kurdish-majority city] Diyarbakir in 2015 was not anywhere near as brutal as the violence the Kurds endured in the 90s".

Both Ince and Aksener vowed Sunday to watch out for voting fraud.

Ince told the crowd that if he wins, "it will not just be Ince who wins.80 million people will win!"

The head of Turkey's electoral commission said authorities had taken action following reports of irregularities at voting stations in southeastern Turkey.

"Turkey", he said, "is staging a democratic revolution". Pro-Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas tweeted his hopes for a calm election day, urging young people to vote.

The constitutional overhaul would mean that Erdogan could stay in power for another two terms until 2029.

Polls suggest that the opposition has a real chance of seizing the AKP's majority in parliament after surprising observers by putting forward a united front.

"Even if the odds are on the incumbent's side, the race is likely to be far tighter than many expected", said Ilke Toygur, analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute and adjunct professor at University Carlos III in Madrid.

"At each election, I come with hope".

The opposition has frequently complained about the nature of media coverage, accusing the pro-Erdogan bulk of the media of a "blackout" that has damaged the chances for a fair election.

Kurds make up about 18 percent of Turkey's 78 million people, mostly in eastern regions, and are expected to play a key role in deciding the outcome of the parliamentary elections.

With the polls officially closed, electoral committees across the country's 81 provinces have started counting the ballots. Ballot papers that don't bear the official stamps will still be considered valid - a measure that led to allegations of fraud in last year's referendum. 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. Some will even have to pass through security checkpoints to vote.

The opposition said it had filed complaints over election monitors being beaten up and alleged instances of bulk voting. "Here we hardly feel the state of emergency that's still ongoing".

The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.

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