Istanbul (June 24, 2018): Polls have closed and votes are being counted across Turkey in a snap election that represents the biggest electoral threat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 15 years of rule.
Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics since his rise as prime minister in 2003 and has transformed the nation. He implemented policies that encouraged sustained economic growth and development, he challenged Turkey’s secular foundations by bringing Islamic conservatism to public life and he gutted public institutions by having tens of thousands of people — many his critics — arrested following a failed military coup in 2016.Some 59 million people were eligible to vote in both presidential and parliamentary elections Sunday, but regardless of who wins, the country will be radically changed.
Erdogan narrowly won a referendum last year to convert the country’s parliamentary system to a powerful executive presidency. Whoever wins will be given sweeping new powers, as the role of prime minister is dissolved and the president gains the authority to issue laws by decree.Erdogan, who has sailed through several elections to remain in power, called the elections 18 months early, as he faces battles on several fronts.
Turkish voters are feeling the pain of soaring inflation, a plunging currency and high interest rates as the economy falters.A polling station worker holds a ballot for Turkey’s presidential election at a polling station in the mainly-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on Sunday.
Normally splintered, the opposition is largely united against Erdogan for the first time in years, and by offering a wide range of presidential candidates, it could split the vote enough ways to leave the frontrunner with less than 50% of the ballots to win outright.If no one gains a clear majority, Turkey will hold a run-off presidential vote on July 8, a potentially dangerous scenario for Erdogan, who has typically run against lackluster candidates and prevailed in the first round.