Turkey votes in landmark presidential, parliamentary elections

Saul Bowman
June 24, 2018

"With these elections, Turkey is achieving a virtual democratic revolution", Erdogan told reporters after voting in Istanbul. He would be expected to win a run-off on July 8, while his AK Party may lose its parliamentary majority.

Voting already closed last week for Turkish citizens resident overseas, with just under 1.5 million out of just over 3 million registered voters casting their ballot, a turnout of just under 49 percent.

And Aksener casted her vote in Istanbul, before she travelled to Ankara where she said that she would follow election results.

Recent changes to electoral laws allow civil servants to lead ballot box committees.

Pictures on social media also appeared to show voters in southeastern areas walking to ballot centres after they were relocated "for security reasons".

Following a joint call by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on April 18, a proposal to hold snap elections was accepted in parliament on April 20. "Backing the HDP means supporting democracy", Demirtas said in a video clip from prison, where he is being held on terror-related charges. If they fail to reach that goal, many of their seats are expected to go to AKP, which could guarantee it a majority in parliament.

"But our military operation in Syria and the historically significant regional developments in Syria and Iraq made it compulsory for Turkey to overcome the uncertainties", Erdogan explained why Turkey would take early elections.

Recent economic troubles have been expected to play a major role in voting intentions after the Turkish lira dropped to record lows against the United States dollar and inflation surged over the past year.

However, Turkey's economic growth has remained among the highest of developing countries, and unemployment has dropped 1.6 per cent over the past year.

The opposition has also alleged heavy bias in favor of Erdogan by state media, with news channel TRT Haber not showing a single second of Ince's giant final Istanbul rally live.

"I hope for the best for our nation", Ince said on June 24 as he voted in his native port town of Yalova, south of Istanbul. He listed the hospitals and transport infrastructure constructed under his 15 years at Turkey's helm as proof of his leadership, and slammed his opponents for lacking vision.

During the election day, official delegations from the OSCE, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will monitor voting procedures such as counting, casting and recording votes without interrupting polling boards.

How those narratives will play out amongst the electorate has remained unclear, with the various polling companies accused of promoting their own political intentions. It's the first time they'll be voting for president and parliament at the same time - a change approved previous year by a referendum that switched Turkey's governance system to an executive presidency.

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