Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said that there is a very high turnout for the elections since the early hours of the morning, compared to the previous elections.
He confirmed that the ministry deployed more than 600,000 security personnel to secure the elections, according to Turkish media.
This morning, the Turks began voting in the most pivotal elections in their modern history, and they will vote in more than 191,000 ballot boxes in the country to elect a new president for a period of 5 years, and to choose the 600 members of parliament.
Erdogan cast his vote in Istanbul, while the candidate of the opposition coalition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, cast his vote in the capital, Ankara.
After casting his vote in Istanbul, Erdogan expressed his hope that the outcome of the presidential elections would be “good for the future of Turkey,” adding that polling is proceeding normally and without problems, and that the polling process in the earthquake zones is going well.
He added that he was monitoring the conduct of the elections with officials “to preserve democracy.”
For his part, Kılıçdaroğlu said in a statement to reporters after casting his vote: “We will bring spring to the future of Turkey, and we are very longing for democracy and the unity of the people.”
The BBC’s delegate to Istanbul, Sally Nabil, monitored a significant increase in the number of voters since the polling process began hours ago.
More than 60 million people are entitled to cast their votes to elect a president, in addition to 600 deputies who will form the twenty-eighth parliament in the history of the republic.
And Kamal Kilicdaroglu (74 years old) is Erdogan’s main rival, while polls show close convergence between the expected results of the two men, and the race has become so intense that the election campaigns continued until the last minute.
President Erdogan, 69, ended his election campaign by leading the evening prayer at the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul.
In the final hours of the campaign on Saturday, Kilicdaroglu laid carnations at the mausoleum of Turkey’s secular, modernist founder Ataturk.
To ensure direct victory in the elections, one of the three candidates (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and Sinan Ogan) needs to obtain more than 50 percent of the vote during the first round. Otherwise, it will go to the run-off in two weeks.
Inflation, according to official figures, is about 44%, but many Turks believe it is much higher, while 11 provinces of the country were affected by two earthquakes that left more than 50,000 dead.
The boxes opened for Turks from 08:00 to close at 17:00 (14:00 GMT), although 1.76 million people had already cast their ballots abroad in Germany, France and other countries, representing a record turnout of 53 percent. .
The aftermath of the earthquake disaster overshadowed the election campaign and became second only to the economy as a major issue.
Soylu said in remarks to reporters while casting his vote: “The Ministry of Interior has provided mobile polling stations in the earthquake areas so that the Turks can vote in these areas.”
Political parties have bussed thousands of survivors from across Turkey back to vote in some of the hardest-hit provinces where they are still registered.
On the sunny platform at Iskenderun Station, people were also arriving by train.
“The train was full this morning,” said an early morning service arrival.
About 300 additional passengers were on the train, staff said, heading to stay with family or friends for the night. They braced for more voters coming in on the late train.
Opposition parties are deploying volunteers to ensure that the 192,000 ballot boxes and election results are properly checked to avoid the risk of fraud.
One of the four presidential candidates, Muharrem Ince, withdrew from the race three days ago, but it was too late to remove his name from the ballot.
Turks also vote for parliament and its 600 deputies. And although they have lost their powers to Erdogan’s executive presidency since 2018, control of parliament remains essential to passing legislation.
Under Turkey’s proportional voting system, parties form alliances in order to be able to reach the 7% threshold required to enter parliament.
The president’s Justice and Development Party, which is described as having an Islamic background, is part of the People’s Alliance with the nationalist MHP and two other parties, while Kilicdaroglu’s centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) works with the nationalist Good Party and four smaller parties under Nation Alliance.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s second largest opposition party, is part of another coalition, but campaigned under a different name, the Green Left.
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