Turkish voters cast ballots in election seen as a test for Erdogan

Turkish voters cast ballots in election seen as a test for Erdogan

The president, however, is facing a more robust and united opposition, which has vowed to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including some 3 million living overseas, are eligible to vote on Sunday.

Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, moved the elections forward from November 2019, arguing the new powers would better enable him to tackle the nation's mounting economic problems - the lira has lost 20 per cent against the dollar this year - and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

Tens of thousands of Turkish citizens are responding to calls from the opposition to monitor the polls for a clean election from the opening of polls at 8 a.m.to their close at 5 p.m. Over 3 million Turkish expatriates cast their ballots in the elections last month.

The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president will be the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in a April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

He also hailed the executive presidency that comes into force after the elections. "With this system, we will achieve what others can not imagine", he said.

Over 56 million eligible voters are for the first time casting ballots simultaneously in the parliamentary and presidential elections, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Fear will continue to reign.

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

Ince further stressed that he would lift Turkey's state of emergency which has been in place over the past two years.

Ballots for Turkey's presidential election are pictured at a polling station in Yalova, Turkey June 24, 2018.

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

Selahattin Demirtas is the youngest candidate in the race. If the Peoples' Democratic Party can get 10% of votes, it will have at least 60 seats and cripple the advantage of the People's Alliance.

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

Turkey's opposition candidates have repeatedly complained over the lack of airtime offered by largely pro-government media. The United Nations say some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked.

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