Turkey Votes as Erdogan Seeks to Strengthen Power

Turkey Votes as Erdogan Seeks to Strengthen Power

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared himself the victor of a high-stakes Turkish election, as he looks to consolidate his power on a nation he has ruled for 15 years.

Voters are flocking to polling centres today to cast ballots in an election that will complete Turkey's transition to a new executive presidential system, a move approved in a controversial referendum past year.

Turkish outgoing President and candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan salutes party supporters during a rally on the eve of the elections in Istanbul.

Erdogan's main rival, Muharrem Ince of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), has promised to reverse Turkey's possible swing towards one-man rule under Erdogan.

Despite 90% of the media being pro-government and largely shunning the opposition, the president's posters and flags dwarfing any challenge on the streets, the election being held under a state of emergency curtailing protests, and critical journalists and academics being jailed or forced into exile, Mr Erdogan only got half of the country behind him.

Polls will close at 14:00 GMT, with preliminary results expected at 17:00 GMT.

People protest against results of the elections in Istanbul, Turkey.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular - yet divisive - leader in modern Turkish history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union.

YSK has announced that Erdogan has obtained an "absolute majority" in Sunday's election.

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Voting in Istanbul along with his son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan said he expected turnout to be strong in an indication of "how mature democracy is in Turkey".

The HDP's presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas is presently detained in a high-security prison on terror charges, which he firmly denies.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdoğan is continuing his stay in office, following a landslide win for reelection.

"Turkey is staging a democratic revolution", he told reporters in the polling station.

Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, argues the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation's economic problems - the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year - and crush Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

Analysts say the opposition's performance is all the more troubling for the authorities given how the campaign has been slanted in favour of Erdogan, who has dominated media airtime.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a second five-year term on Sunday in an election granting the Turkish leader unprecedented executive powers. Fear will continue to reign. The current prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said he expects he'll be appointed vice president.

He is now leading in the polls with 56 percent of the vote. As is customary in Turkey on polling days, sales of alcohol in shops are also prohibited.

Erdogan has faced backlash around the world over human rights abuses, especially after a failed coup attempt in 2016 that led to a crackdown under his rule on journalists, academics and civil servants.