World News

Turkey's Erdogan, main rival stage final election rallies

Turkey's Erdogan, main rival stage final election rallies

The early parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey are scheduled to be held on Sunday, June 24, that is, nearly a year and a half earlier than planned.

The elections will be followed by the biggest change in Turkey's political system in over half a century.

Former physics teacher Muharrem İnce is backed by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and has wooed crowds with an engaging election campaign.

The victor of Sunday's presidential contest will acquire sweeping new executive powers under a constitutional overhaul backed by Erdogan and endorsed previous year by a narrow majority of Turks in a referendum. He said the new system will bring stability and prosperity to Turkey, but critics warn it could lead to a "one-man rule" amid signs of an unsound economy.

More news: Instagram Gets Into Long-Form Video With IGTV

Turks go to the polls on Sunday for what are seen as the most crucial elections in the country's modern history. He warned supporters that a "fear regime" would continue if Erdogan is re-elected, predicting that financial markets would be rattled and the national lira currency would decline further.

Six candidates are vying for the Turkish presidency. "Turkey will win!" said Ince, who boasted of holding 107 rallies in the last 50 days.

Turkey has been under emergency rule - which restricts some personal freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with emergency decrees - for almost two years following an abortive military coup in July 2016.

Polls show Erdogan falling short of a first-round victory in the presidential race but he would be expected to win a run-off on July 8, while his AK Party could lose its parliamentary majority, possibly heralding increased tensions between president and parliament. According to the latest United Nations figures, some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more sacked in the crackdown. After having consolidated power by crushing the organizers of a military coup, firing thousands of government workers, and controlling much of the media, Erdogan knows he holds sole responsibility for the state of his country today. Pro-Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas tweeted his hopes for a calm election day, urging young people to vote. "Backing the HDP means supporting democracy".