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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Everything you need to know about the Turkish elections

The vote will be the first under a powerful new presidential system

The logo used by Turkish NGO Oy ve Otesi (Vote and Beyond) to promote election transparency ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, 2018. Gokan Gunes / AFP 
The logo used by Turkish NGO Oy ve Otesi (Vote and Beyond) to promote election transparency ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, 2018. Gokan Gunes / AFP 

Turkey heads to the polls on Sunday to vote in both presidential and parliamentary elections on the same day for the first time in its history. The elections come two years after a failed military coup to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In April, President Erdogan called the early vote, originally slated for November 2019, arguing that Turkey needed to “overcome uncertainty”, with the economy on a downward trajectory, and citing “diseases" of the country's current political system. Critics say he called the vote for his own political gain.

The vote will herald a switch to a powerful executive presidency which was narrowly approved by referendum last year.

President Erdogan’s main challenger is Muharrem Ince of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), a former physics teacher.

The Turkish leader’s key Kurdish rival, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas, is campaigning from a prison cell where he has been held on terrorism charges regarding alleged links to Kurdish militants.

Former interior minister Meral Aksener is bidding to become Turkey’s first female president as the leader of a new nationalist political party known as Iyi, or “Good”.

Polls suggest that the outcome remains too close to predict, with President Erdogan needing over 50 per cent of the presidential vote to secure re-election outright. But a Bloomberg survey showed Mr Ince at 30.1 per cent of the vote, Mr Demirtas at 10.5 per cent and Ms Askener on eight per cent. Any increase for those candidates on election day could result in a run-off vote, which would be held on July 8.

President Erdogan remains the favourite to win, but his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) could lose its parliamentary majority if the opposition performs as expected and Mr Demirtas’ HDP party surpasses the 10 per cent electoral threshold to enter parliament.

There are 56.3 million Turks who are eligible to vote, including 3 million expat voters who have already had the chance to cast their ballots.

About 181,000 ballot boxes will be in place for the vote across the country. Polls will open at 8am and close at 5pm.

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