ANKARA, June 24. /TASS/. Early presidential and parliamentary elections that were held on the same day for the first time in Turkey’s history finished without any serious incidents as polling stations closed at 17:00 local time (same as Moscow Time) on Sunday, Anadolu Agency reported.
According to Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul, no serious incidents were reported across the country on the voting day. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said no serious violations of the law had been reported. The European security watchdog OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) reported no restrictions concerning election monitoring procedures either.
The elections were held amid the state of emergency introduced after a failed coup d’etat in July 2016. The vote was initially expected to take place in November 2019, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scheduled the early vote for June 24, 2018.
Turkey will be switching from a parliamentary to a presidential system, and the office of the prime minister will be abolished.
According to the Anadolu Agency, more than 56 million citizens are eligible to vote. The voters will go to polling stations to elect the country’s president and members of the Turkish parliament, which had been reformed to include 600 lawmakers instead of 550. The age threshold has also been lowered, from 25 years to 18.
The Turkish president and parliament are elected in a nationwide vote for a five-year term.
Security has been tightened in Turkey’s major cities. At least 16,000 police officers will be on duty in Ankara, and more than 38,000 law enforcement personnel will ensure security in Istanbul.
Hundreds of journalists, local observers and 415 representatives from eight international organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, will monitor the vote.
Six candidates, including Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are taking part in the presidential race. Erdogan’s main challenger is Muharrem Ince of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
The current leader is expected to get the 50% of votes and win in the first round. However, a number of pollsters project that a runoff may be necessary. If all candidates fail to get more than 50% of the vote, it will take place on July 8.
Other presidential candidates are Meral Aksener of the IYI Party (translated into English as the Good Party), Temel Karamollaoglu of the Felicity Party, Dogu Perincek of the Patriotic party and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-minority Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
The Supreme Election Commission has cleared nine parties to run in the parliamentary polls, including the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Erdogan and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which form the ruling alliance. The main opposition alliance includes Republican People's Party (CHP), the Islamist Felicity Party and the newly formed nationalist IYI Party.
The parties that run independently are the pan-Islamism Free Cause Party, left-wing nationalist Patriotic Party and the Free Cause Party.
The Independent Turkey Party, which is also eligible for the vote, decided to boycott the polls.