ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was leading a tightly-contested presidential election in a partial count as he seeks a new mandate in the face of a revitalised opposition and weakening economy.
Turkish voters had for the first time cast ballots for both president and parliament in the snap polls, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to extend his 15-year grip on power.
In the presidential poll, Erdogan has just under 56 per cent against his nearest rival Muharrem Ince of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) with almost 29 per cent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 60 per cent vote count.
Erdogan needs over 50 per cent to retain the presidency in the first round. But these are still partial results and the outcome could yet change drastically.
Trailing were Meral Aksener of the nationalist (Iyi) Good Party with over seven per cent and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) with under six per cent.
A count of almost 50 per cent for the parliamentary election also showed that Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) – along with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies – were well ahead and set for an overall majority. But again this can change sharply.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was hovering just under the 10 per cent minimum threshold needed to win seats, a factor likely to have a major impact on the composition of the new parliament.