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Turks vote for president, parliament in crucial test for Erdogan

Turks vote for president, parliament in crucial test for Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the 64-year-old incumbent, is seeking re-election for another five-year-term.

The polls - for which more than 55 million Turkish voters are registered - will also finalize Turkey's transition to an executive presidency, which was narrowly approved in a contentious election a year ago.

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".

The votes of Turkey's Kurdish minority will be especially crucial in the parliamentary poll.

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 previous year.

Speaking in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged citizens to vote and listed the hospitals and transportation infrastructure as proof of his leadership. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule. Voting began at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and will end at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT).

Mat Nashed, reporting for The National from Diyarbakir, says there is heavy security presence around each school that has turned into a polling station.

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

"If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to".

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on the preacher's followers in Turkey.

Turkey has been under emergency rule since a failed coup attempt in 2016, after which the government launched a sweeping crackdown on opponents and those it said participated in the rebellion. The United Nations says some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked.

"I voted for the AKP for the future of my children, but my children voted HDP", said one man, adding that he voted for Mr Erdogan over fears that if the president is not again elected, he will start another war in Diyarbakir.

She and others in the city said they voted for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) so that it exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament.

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

Presidential candidate of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Muharrem Ince holds a potato and an onion as he delivers a speech during a rally in Istanbul, on June 23, 2018.

Selahattin Demirtas is the youngest candidate in the race.


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