Information about the results is expected by today evening. As per rules, the preliminary results should be announced before midnight.
Turkey is voting today in the country’s crucial presidential and parliamentary elections. The election has been described as historic as it will decide the continuation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s more than twenty-year reign.
Polling began at eight in the morning in a peaceful atmosphere and will continue till five in the evening.
Kemal Kilikdaroglu, the candidate of Turkey’s opposition coalition, has topped almost all support polls, but Erdogan also has the support of at least 40 percent of all voters.
Erdogan, who voted in Istanbul, told television cameras that he hoped “the result is good for the future of Turkey and its democracy.” His main rival, Kilicdaroglu, 74, went to vote in the capital, Ankara.
We all have missed democracy. “God willing, you will see that spring will still come to this country,” Kilicdaroglu told reporters present, according to the AFP news agency.
If neither candidate receives more than the required minimum 50 percent of the vote, the election will go to a second round on 28 May.
The third presidential candidate, Sinan Ogan, received very few votes in support polls, and the fourth candidate, Muharrem Ines, withdrew last week.
Opposition has its own vote monitoring system
The results of parliamentary elections are not considered as important, as in Turkey’s current system the president is able to override parliament in decision-making.
If Kilicdaroglu wins, it would end Erdogan’s long political career and could lead to criminal charges against him and his inner circle for corruption and other wrongdoings.
Turkey’s opposition coalition has set up its own vote monitoring system to compare results with officially announced results. The main opposition party CHP has sent nearly 300,000 of its observers to the ballot box across the country, and the OSCE has also sent its observers.
Information about the results is expected by today evening. As per rules, the preliminary results should be announced before midnight. Election results can be challenged, and complaints of possible ballot box abuse can be made until 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Erdogan was referring to the 2016 coup attempt
There are widespread fears of violence in Turkey on election night, and Kilikdaroglu has advised his supporters to stay in their homes after voting and not to incite.
– If we go out on the streets to celebrate, there could be riots, some flare-ups and armed (persons) may come on the streets. We must not let this happen, Kilicdaroglu said on Turkish television more than a week ago.
In his campaign speech in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan declared that if necessary, his supporters would “defend Turkey’s independence and future with life and blood” if attacked. In his speech, he also referred to the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that left nearly 250 people dead after Erdogan ordered his supporters to take to the streets to defend the elected regime.
Instead of Erdogan condemning last week’s attacks on opposition election events, both Erdogan and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu have blamed the attacks on the opposition.
Election campaign took place in a tense atmosphere
Election campaigning is going on in a tense atmosphere. The election office of the main opposition CHP was recently ransacked, and opposition election posters were torn on the streets of Sanliurfa in southeastern Turkey.
Also last weekend, several people were injured when a group of Erdogan supporters pelted stones at the election bus of Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition mayor of Istanbul, in Erzurum in eastern Turkey while police looked on silently.
However, the events in Erzurum are believed to have mostly strengthened support for Kilikdaroglu, as many condemned the attacks.
Attempts are made to calm emotions, for example by the fact that the sale of alcohol is restricted until midnight on election day and that, as usual, bars are closed on election days. The rules also ban the carrying of weapons in residential areas on election day by anyone except police and security forces.