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Turkey votes in first direct presidential poll
August 9, 2014, 4:48 am

With the AKP having won the past six national and local elections, Erdogan can count on considerable electoral support and is expected to easily win the election in the first round [Xinhua]

With the AKP having won the past six national and local elections, Erdogan can count on considerable electoral support and is expected to easily win the election in the first round [Xinhua]


Campaigning for Turkey’s first election in which the voters – not parliament – elect a president ended on Saturday with most surveys indicating that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan enjoys a significant lead.

Polls have shown Erdogan holding steady with 53 to 55 per cent of the electorate saying they will vote for him on Sunday.

Erdogan is the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and has been prime minister for 11 years.

Between June 23 and August 6, the same polls indicate that his lead over his closest rival increased to between 16 and 19 per cent.

Former Organisation of Islamic Cooperation chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who comes second in the polls with 33 to 36 per cent of the electorate saying they will vote for him, is the presidential candidate of the two largest opposition parties – the Republicans (CHP) and the Nationalists (MHP).

The pro-Kurdish party candidate Selahattin Demirtas, a lawyer and politician, is likely to win six to nine per cent of the vote, the polls show.

Some 53 million people of a population of 76,070,852 are eligible to vote in more than 160,000 polling stations across the country on August 10.

But so far, expatriate voting – which ended on August 3 – has been lackluster. Of nearly 2.8 million eligible expatriate voters, only some 8.5 per cent voted in 103 consulates in 54 countries.

Nevertheless, it is likely Erdogan will win even if the vote goes to a second round should no candidate win over 50 per cent on Sunday.

With the AKP having won the past six national and local elections, Erdogan can count on considerable electoral support.

Erdogan has weathered a difficult year. The local elections held at the end of March were largely seen as a vote of confidence in both his efficacy as a leader and his AK party’s dominance of the Turkish political landscape.

Despite a corruption probe launched against many of his business and political allies and leaked recordings of yet another financial scandal, the AKP overwhelmingly routed the opposition.

Human rights organisations and some EU states have also criticised Erdogan for the way he handled last year’s Gezi Park anti-government protests that lasted all summer and effectively locked down the city centre, leaving tourists in clouds of tear gas for months.

But Erdogan still enjoys considerable popularity as the leader who revolutionised the Turkish economy, effectively ended a Kurdish rebellion in the east through mostly diplomatic means, and thrown Ankara into the world stage as a major player in the Middle East.

Source: Agencies

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