Polls close in Turkey’s landmark elections
Polls have closed for Turkey’s high-stakes presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24 to complete the country’s transition to a new executive presidential system that was approved in a tight referendum last year.
More than 56 million voters gathered outside polling centers 8 a.m. local time to cast their ballots.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking re-election for a new five-year term, which he says will bring prosperity and stability to Turkey, especially after a 2016 failed coup attempt. He must secure more than 50 percent of the vote for an outright win on June 24. If the threshold is not reached, a runoff could be held on July 8 between the leading two contenders.
Five candidates are running against him in the presidential race.
Former physics teacher Muharrem İnce is backed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and has wooed crowds with an engaging election campaign. His rallies in Turkey’s three main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir drew massive numbers.
Also challenging Erdoğan is 61-year-old former interior minister Meral Akşener. The only woman candidate broke away from Turkey’s main nationalist party over its support for Erdoğan and formed the center-right and nationalist Good Party (İYİ Party).
Selahattin Demirtaş, the candidate of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was forced to run his campaign from prison, where he is being held in pre-trial detention on terrorism-related charges.
Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu and Patriotic Party (VP) leader Doğu Perinçek are also running for the post after collecting 100,000 signatures from citizens to be nominated.
Turkey will also be electing 600 lawmakers to parliament - 50 more than in the previous assembly.
The landmark election day was rescheduled to a year-and-a-half before its original date following a joint proposal made by Erdoğan and National Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on April 18. After parliament approved the bill on April 20, the two leaders declared they would enter both elections in a “People’s Alliance,” officially launched on May 1.
In the parliamentary run, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is hoping to retain its majority in parliament and the AKP-MHP bloc is up against the “Nation Alliance,” an electoral formation including the CHP, İYİ Party, and the SP.
The HDP was left out of the alliance and needs to pass a 10 percent threshold to win seats in parliament. If the party passes the threshold, it could cost the “People Alliance” dozens of seats.
Voting ended at 5 p.m. at 180,065 ballot boxes across the country as well as at customs gates.
Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., media outlets will only be able to publish official announcements about the elections issued by the Supreme Elections Council (YSK).
Alcoholic beverages will not be sold from 6 a.m. to midnight while consumption of alcoholic beverages will also be prohibited in public places.