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POLITICS > Erdoğan would win Turkish presidency in first round: Polls

ANKARA – Reuters

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Trabzonspor chairman İbrahim Hacıosmaoğlu had presented Prime Minister Erdoğan his club's jersey that reads "The World Leader."

Trabzonspor chairman İbrahim Hacıosmaoğlu had presented Prime Minister Erdoğan his club's jersey that reads "The World Leader."

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan would comfortably win the August presidential election if he decides to run, according to two local polls which give him a 20-point lead over his nearest challenger. 

The vote will be the first time that Turkey has directly elected its head of state. Erdoğan, who has dominated political life for more than a decade, has made little secret of his desire to be president. 

If he assumes the presidency he is expected to exercise existing presidential powers to a much greater extent than incumbent President Abdullah Gul, whose role over the past seven years has been largely ceremonial. 

His ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not announce its candidate until next Tuesday but Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said on June 25 it will almost certainly be Erdoğan. 

"We pretty much know who our presidential candidate will be ... Barring any obstacles, on July 1, the nomination of our prime minister will most likely be announced. Every group he has held talks with has expressed a favourable view on his nomination. What remains is his own judgment," Arınç told Turkish media, in comments confirmed by his office.

A survey conducted by Turkish pollster Genar predicts Erdoğan would win 55.2 percent of the vote, with Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint candidate of the country's two leading opposition parties, on 35.8 percent. 

A second poll conducted by MAK Consultancy put Erdoğan on 56.1 percent and his rival on 34.2 percent, the pro-government newspaper Sabah reported on June 26. 

Both polls have Selahattin Demirtaş, the expected candidate for Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, on less than 10 percent. 

Erdoğan would need at least 50 percent to win outright in the first round on Aug. 10, and avoid a potential second round run-off which could see opponents of his divisive style attempt to rally behind a single candidate. 

Turkey's abrasive premier has endured one of the most challenging periods of his political career over the last year, facing down widespread anti-government protests last year, and having to deal with growing concerns over the security situation in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, and a corruption scandal that has swirled around his inner circle. 

However, a strong showing for the ruling AKP in local elections in March has buoyed his supporters. 

Last week the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said they had agreed to nominate Ihsanoglu, who stepped down in December as head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint candidate for the race.

June/26/2014

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