Turkey votes as Erdogan eyes second term

Turkey votes as Erdogan eyes second term

Erdogan had 52.7 percent of the votes with 96 percent counted followed by Muharrem Ince at 30.8 percent, Selahattin Demirtas at 8.1 percent and Meral Aksener at 7.4 percent, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency news agency.

"President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received the absolute majority of all valid votes", the head of the Supreme Election Committee (YSK) Sadi Guven told reporters in Ankara, without giving further details or numbers after Sunday's polls.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, was edging past the 10 per cent threshold to enter parliament, with 10.7 per cent.

Over 56 million Turkish voters will for the first time in history be voting simultaneously in parliamentary and presidential elections, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) scored below the parliamentary average of 17.67 percent, with just 19 female deputies out of 146, amounting to a mere 13 percent.

The voting marked the first time Turkish voters cast their ballots in simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, in line with the constitutional changes approved in a referendum a year ago that will transform the country's parliamentary system to an executive presidential one. Women will make up 17.82% of its lawmakers this term, up from its previous 11 percent.

Its success is all the more remarkable given the HDP's Demirtas has campaigned from a jail cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

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Turkey will continue to "liberate Syrian lands" so that refugees can return to Syria safely, Erdogan said in an election victory speech early Monday.

Erdogan had faced an energetic campaign by Ince, who has rivalled the incumbent's charisma and crowd-pulling on the campaign trail, as well as a strong opposition alliance in the legislative poll. He will also have the right to appoint individuals into high-level government positions and senior roles within the judiciary. He accused the agency of "manipulation" of the results.

Its spokesman Bulent Tezcan said Anadolu was publishing a count of over 90 percent of votes while in fact short of 40 percent had been counted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed in a phone conversation on Monday their mutual interest in boosting partnership ties between the two countries, the Kremlin press service said.

"The winners of the June 24 elections are Turkey, the Turkish nation, the sufferers of our region and all oppressed in the world", he declared.

He secured an executive presidency with sweeping powers, having been first elected 15 years ago. But critics accuse the Turkish strongman, 64, of trampling on civil liberties and displaying autocratic behavior.

Meanwhile, former physics teacher Ince built up a national following with lacerating attacks on Erdogan's rule, bringing up near-taboos like the AKP's past cooperation with the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 failed coup. Analysts predict an economic downturn amid rising inflation and a struggling currency. "Turkey's hopes will be revived".

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