Turks vote for president, parliament in crucial test for Erdogan

Erdogan expects Turkey’s development level to reach the levels of Russia, US

After casting his ballot in his jail in the northwestern region of Edirne, Demirtas wrote on Twitter: "I wish that everyone uses their vote for the sake of the future and democracy of the country".

This weekend's election in Turkey may be a lose-lose scenario for investors.

Turks began voting today for a new president and parliament in elections that pose the biggest challenge to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.

In April 2017, 51 percent of Turkish voters endorsed constitutional changes backed by Erdogan, which grant new executive powers to president and scrap the post of prime minister.

Voters are flocking to polling centres today to cast ballots in an election that will complete Turkey's transition to a new executive presidential system, a move approved in a controversial referendum past year. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule.

Voting stations opened at 8:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Sunday and will close at 5:00 p.m. local time (1400 GMT).

An estimated one million people turned out here in Istanbul's Maltepe district to hear Ince vow to reverse what he sees as Erdogan's authoritarian rule. He warned supporters that a "fear regime" would continue if Erdogan is re-elected, predicting that financial markets would be rattled and the national lira currency would decline further.


Ince promised voters an independent judiciary that he said would stabilise the economy.

Erdogan has at times seemed on the defensive, making promises to lift the state of emergency imposed after the coup bid and ensuring the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey go home only after similar pledges by Ince. According to the latest United Nations figures, some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more sacked in the crackdown.

Ince also repeated his accusation - made by other opposition politicians too - of political bias by Turkey's state media, which has given Erdogan and the AK Party heavy coverage while often neglecting to broadcast opposition rallies.

He said the new system will bring stability and prosperity to Turkey, but critics warn it could lead to a "one-man rule".

Experts said the key for the People's Alliance to get enough seats lies in the hand of the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party.

Erdogan needs at least 50% of the vote to win in the first-round presidential poll on June 24.

But in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP's presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

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