Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections

Political leaders have begun casting their votes at various polling stations around Turkey on June 24 in the country’s landmark snap presidential and parliamentary elections that are taking place under an ongoing state of emergency. 

The voting process for 56.3 million registered citizens in all 81 provinces of Turkey will be held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time at 180,065 ballot boxes across the country.

Some 1,650,000 registered citizens are expected to make their first votes in the snap elections, which will herald a switch to a new powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a controversial referendum last year, marred by allegations of fraud.

For the first time, the presidential and parliamentary ballots are being placed in a single envelope as eight international monitors and some million registered ballot box watchers stand on duty.

While two electoral alliances are going into the parliamentary elections, there are six names running for the presidential office in Ankara’s Beştepe district.

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is up for the seat from the “People’s Alliance,” racing on behalf of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Muharrem İnce is running from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), while Meral Akşener is offering her candidacy from the center-right Good (İYİ) Party, Temel Karamollaoğlu from the conservative Felicity Party (SP), Doğu Perinçek from the Patriotic (Vatan) Party, and Selahattin Demirtaş, from behind the bars, for the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

President Erdoğan casts his vote in Istanbul

Leader of the AKP and presidential hopeful, Erdoğan cast his vote in Istanbul on June 24 in the afternoon.

Arriving at the polling station in the Üsküdar district with his wife, daughter and son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is also the country’s energy minister, Erdoğan first cast his vote and then spoke to reporters.

“The turnout seems good,” said the president, who has been in state power since 2003.

According to him, voter turnout had passed 50 percent.

“Even in the most advanced countries around the world, the turnout rate stands at around 30 percent. Turkey is in a more advanced position that that,” the president added.

Regarding poll safety issues and concerns, Erdoğan said there has so far not been “a serious problem.”

Erdoğan also highlighted the presidential system his party backs, saying it will help advance Turkey.

“A democratic revolution will come with these elections,” he said.

He will watch part of the elections from Istanbul, before heading to Ankara, he said before leaving the classroom of the school where he voted.

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
Presidential runner İnce casts vote in hometown

İnce, an MP from his hometown in the northwestern province Yalova, cast his vote on June 24.

Speaking to the press corps with his wife Ülkü İnce by his side, the candidate said he would be on his way to the Supreme Elections Board (YSK) building in Ankara.

İnce has repeatedly said he would “guard” the votes at the YSK level and that he would not sleep until the counts are finalized, also calling for citizens to guard the ballot boxes at the local levels.

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
İYİ Party’s presidential candidate Meral Akşener casts vote

Akşener cast her vote on June 24 in Istanbul’s Beylerbeyi district.

“We are going into a very different election. We are choosing both presidential runners registered with political parties and the parliament,” she said.

“You can discuss anything in a democracy except for the results of the votes cast by the freewill of citizens. The most important term here is ‘freewill,’” said the İYİ Party candidate.

The İYİ Party will monitor the elections process from the headquarters, said Akşener, adding that she would be on her way to the Turkish capital Ankara right after voting.

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli casts vote in Turkey’s east

Kurdish issue-focused HDP’s co-leader Sezai Temelli cast his vote in the eastern province of Van on June 24.

“We wish for the elections to be a festive democratic event for our beautiful country; our country shared by workers, women, youth and all people of different faiths,” Temelli told reporters.

“We hope the hope today will carry on to tomorrow,” he added.

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli casts vote in Ankara

Erdoğan’s electoral ally, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli cast his vote in the landmark twin elections in the Turkish capital before noon on June 24.

Bahçeli is going to the presidential elections in a bid to support Erdoğan.

“June 24 is an important day for our nation,” the MHP leader told reporters.

“I believe Turkey will enter a new phase through healthy elections,” he added, also congratulating the political leaders running in the race.

In response to allegations that election fraud has already taken place in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, Bahçeli said he is unaware.

“The interior minister and other authorities have taken precautions. The elections will be healthy,” he said.

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu casts vote in Turkish capital

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu cast his vote before noon on June 24 in Turkey’s landmark twin elections.

“We are worried about democracy so long as our friends at the ballot boxes carry out their duties,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu is supporting and has rallied for Muharrem İnce, MP from the northwestern Yalova province, in the presidential race.

He arrived at the polling station on June 24 accompanied by his wife and son.

Addressing civil servants, Kılıçdaroğlu asked them to “remember [they] are not political but civil authorities.”

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
Jailed HDP presidential candidate’s wife casts vote in southeast

Jailed HDP presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş’s wife Başak Demirtaş cast her vote early on June 24.

“I came here to vote early in the morning because I believe today will be a great day. I am very excited,” she said.

“I cast my vote early today so years of ongoing injustice can come to an end,” Demirtaş added.

“That is why every single vote matters,” she said.

During the campaigning period, the HDP leader exercised his right to freedom of speech through his relatives and his lawyers to convey campaign messages, which were often shared with the public via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, a first in world political history.

Demirtaş has been behind bars since Nov. 4, 2016 on several charges of terrorism.

Political leaders cast votes in Turkey’s landmark twin elections
Felicity Party leader Karamollaoğlu casts vote in Ankara

Felicity Party (SP) leader and presidential runner Temel Karamollaoğlu cast his vote in Ankara on June 24.

Part of the “Nation Alliance” in the legislative elections, Karamollaoğlu is running for the presidential office on his on name.

“The elections matter because we are electing the president and the parliamentarians who will make the calls in the next five years,” he said, speaking to reporters.