Will Erdogan Ince closer to second term as President?

Jun 25, 2018, 08:47 IST | Agencies

As Turkey votes in dual parliamentary and presidential votes for the first time, current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces tough test against rival, former physics teacher Muharrem Ince

Will Erdogan Ince closer to second term as President?
Presidential candidate of Turkey's main opposition party Muharrem Ince; (right) Turkish President and candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pics/AFP

Turks began voting yesterday in dual parliamentary and presidential polls seen as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's toughest election test, with the opposition revitalised and his popularity at risk from growing economic troubles.

Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT (10.30 am IST) and were due to close at 1400 GMT (7.30 pm IST) , with the first results expected late in the evening. Over 56 million eligible voters can for the first time cast ballots simultaneously in the parliamentary and presidential elections, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

But both these goals are in doubt in the face of an energetic campaign by his rival from the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince, who has mobilised hundreds of thousands in mega rallies, and a strong opposition alliance in the legislative polls.Erdogan remains the favourite to hold on to the presidency - even if he needs a second round on July 8 - but the outcome is likely to be much tighter than he expected. Erdogan has won a dozen elections but is now fighting against the backdrop of increasing economic woes.

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. He mustered colossal numbers for rallies in the three largest cities of Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul on the final days of the campaign, promising a "different Turkey."

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