Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections

Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday faces the biggest ballot box challenge of his 15 year grip on Turkey, with the opposition revitalized and his popularity at risk from growing economic troubles. Five of those parties will also run as part of two competing electoral alliances: The "People Alliance" by Erdogan's ruling party and a nationalist party versus the "Nation Alliance" by the leading secular opposition, a nascent centre-right party and an Islamic-leaning party.

Turkey on Sunday will vote in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Meral Aksener, is the only woman in the race and is the second strongest candidate of the opposition, according to the latest polls.

Despite this, he is still the favourite in presidential polls with far more coverage on state media than any of his opponents.

The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent. "Turkey will win!" said Ince, who boasted of holding 107 rallies in the last 50 days.

"Ince has shown in a very short time that a serious alternative could be emerging".

Should he win the June 24 elections, Erdoğan would be Turkey's first leader under the presidential system, which does away with the prime minister's post, among other changes.

Erdogan has served as president since 2014 - Turkey's first popularly elected president. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he expects the level of development of his country to reach the levels of Russian Federation and the United States.

Inflation has zoomed well into double digits - with popular concern over sharp rises in staples like potatoes and onions - while the Turkish lira has lost some 25 percent in value against the USA dollar this year. Religiously observant Muslims form the bedrock of Erdogan's support. Turkey has been under a state of emergency ever since, with 107,000 public servants and soldiers dismissed from their jobs.

Muharrem Ince, a passionate politician from the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), was at a huge rally in Ankara where he directly addressed his opponent. 80 million people will win! His speech was broadcast by the A Haber TV channel.

A worker slices meat as a reflection of a portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen in the window of a Turkish restaurant in Istanbul's Taksim Square on June 20, 2018. He said the new system will bring stability and prosperity to Turkey, but critics warn it could lead to a "one-man rule" amid signs of an unsound economy.

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