Turkey is voting in one of the tightest elections in recent years

More than 64 million Turks are called to the polls this Sunday to elect their new president and renew the 600 seats in the Grand National Assembly (parliament). Schools close at 5:00 p.m. (local time).

The President of the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK, in Turkish) Ahmet Yener announced that more than 4.9 million people will exercise their right to vote for the first time, Sabah newspaper reports.

At the same time, voting abroad was partially completed on May 9th. More than 1.76 million votes of Turkish citizens took part in the 73 polling stations set up in Ankara’s diplomatic missions around the world, representing a 53% turnout. Anyone who has not yet voted abroad can do so at the customs offices until 5 p.m. today.

The electoral authorities said they took the necessary measures to ensure the security of the electoral process from possible cyber attacks or power outages, Anadolu Agency explained. “May 14th is the holiday of democracy. We recommend all eligible citizens to vote safely and cast their ballots,” said Yener, quoted by broadcaster TRT Haber.

He also pointed out that the southern areas affected by last February’s devastating earthquake are prepared for Election Day. “All measures have been taken to ensure that voters can vote safely,” the YSK chairman said, noting that the electoral roll lists around 8.9 million voters in those areas.

Which candidates are running for the presidency?

If this Turkish election is attracting global attention, it is because of the possibility that current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could lose by a narrow margin, as most polls have predicted. The President is running again for the presidency of the ruling coalition “People’s Alliance”, which includes his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

His main rival in the elections is Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a veteran center-left politician running for the historic Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by the republic’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and running as a candidate from the Alianza coalition de la Nacion.

Last Thursday, center-left candidate Muharrem Ince of the Memleket party announced that he was withdrawing from the election campaign. The politician, who lost to Erdogan as a CHP candidate in 2018, denounced being the victim of a campaign aimed at defaming him.

Despite Ince’s withdrawal, the Supreme Electoral Body ruled that the votes for this candidate, whose name remains on the ballot, are counted as valid.

The final candidate is Sinan Ogan (right), who is running for the ATA Alliance and is the only one of foreign origin, coming from a Turkish-Azerbaijani family.

To be victorious in the first ballot, one of the candidates must receive 50% of the votes plus one. If this does not succeed, a second round will take place on May 28th.

(Taken from RT in Spanish)