Polls open in Turkey’s first direct presidential poll

Millions of Turks have begun casting their ballots across Turkey in the country’s first presidential election by popular vote.

Turkish citizens are voting at more than 165,000 polling stations on Sunday to directly elect their head of state for a five-year term. Some 53 million people are eligible to vote.

There are three main candidates in the election, including incumbent prime minister and the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The AKP has expressed confidence that 60-year-old Erdogan can win the presidential race in the first round. A run-off is scheduled for August 24 if none of the three candidates receives more than 50 percent of the votes.

Former head of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, 41, also hopes to draw votes.

Opinion polls show that Erdogan is on the lead and widely expected to win the Sunday presidential poll.

Previous Turkish presidents, including outgoing Abdullah Gul, have performed largely ceremonial functions but Erdogan has promised changes to the constitution to increase presidential powers if he wins the election.

On Saturday, Erdogan promised tens of thousands of voters backing him in the election a strong and new Turkey.

By Press TV


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