السبت , سبتمبر 5 2020

Erdogan surges ahead in Turkey poll



Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Selahattin Demirtas

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“Election officials are slicing open the envelopes,” reports Mark Lowen from a classroom where votes are being counted

Outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has surged into the lead in Turkey’s first direct presidential election, early vote counts suggest.

Mr Erdogan is polling at 56% after almost half of the votes have been counted, Turkish broadcasters said.

He needs more than 50% of the vote for an outright victory, otherwise he will face a second round on 24 August.

Mr Erdogan, 60, says if he wins, he wants to bolster the power of the largely ceremonial post of president.

He has been prime minister since 2003 and is barred from standing for that office again.

‘Show our colours’

The BBC’s Mark Lowen in the capital Ankara says turnout appears to be much lower than expected.

The summer heat and holidays may have dissuaded some voters, our correspondent says.

A supporter tries to touch PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan (10 August 2014)Supporters rushed to touch Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he cast his vote in Istanbul

Turkey – wedged between the turmoil of Iraq, Syria and Ukraine – is an important ally for the West, our correspondent adds, and whoever becomes head of state will hold a key geopolitical position.

Mr Erdogan’s two rivals are a little-known diplomat, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.

Mr Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the two main opposition parties in parliament, the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

He served as the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation from 2004 to 2014.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu at a polling station in Istanbul (10 August 2014)Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was greeting by a cheering crowd at a polling station in Istanbul

Selahattin Demirtas addresses crowds in Izmir. 9 Aug 2014Selahattin Demirtas is a lawyer who became involved in human rights groups in Turkey’s Kurdish region

Mr Ihsanoglu has vowed to uphold the president’s traditional role, insisting it is not up to the head of state to be involved in day-to-day running of politics.

Mr Demirtas, 41, is a leader of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and a well-known politician from the Kurdish minority.

He has focused his campaign on championing the cause of the oppressed, the poor, the young and the working classes.

“We cannot build our union by accusing each other. Let’s show our colours at the ballot box tomorrow with our oppressed identities and faiths,” Mr Demirtas told crowds in the city of Izmir ahead of the elections.

In his final rally in the city of Konya on Saturday, Mr Erdogan vowed to raise Turkey’s democratic standards and economic record to create a “world leader and global power”.

“There is no unattainable dream or unattainable objective for this nation,” he said.

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