Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

Ballots of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are being counted at a polling station in Diyarbakir, Turkey. (Reuters)
Updated 24 June 2018

Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

  • President Tayyip Erdogan has over 50 percent of the vote with 40 percent of the votes counted in Turkey's presidential election
  • If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent in Sunday’s vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8

ANKARA: Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party took an early lead in presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to preliminary partial results, boosting the president’s hopes of extending his 15-year rule.
However, the first results had been expected to give Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted party a strong lead and it is expected to shorten as more votes are tallied across the nation of 81 million people.
With about 30 percent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 58 percent, well ahead of his closest rival, Muharrem Ince, of the main opposition, secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), on 27.5 percent, broadcasters said.
If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent in Sunday’s vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8.
In the parliamentary contest, the AK Party had 53.03 percent, based on 10.25 percent of votes counted, the broadcasters said. The CHP had 14.82 percent and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) 7.07 percent.
Turnout was high at around 87 percent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.
Sunday’s vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.
Earlier on Sunday, a crowd of Erdogan’s supporters chanted his name as he emerged from a school after voting in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, shaking hands with people amid tight security.
“Turkey is staging a democratic revolution,” he told reporters in the polling station. “With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilizations.”
Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, argues the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation’s economic problems — the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year — and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
But he reckoned without Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey’s long-demoralized and divided opposition.
Voicing opposition concerns about possible electoral fraud, Ince told reporters outside the High Electoral Board (YSK) after polling stations had closed that citizens should protect ballot boxes. He also urged YSK members to “do your job the right way,” adding he believed the results would be “very good.”
Opposition parties and NGOs deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to ward against fraud. They have said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raise fears about the vote’s fairness.
Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations.
Turkey has been under emergency rule — which restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees — for nearly two years since an attempted coup in 2016.
Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.
The president’s critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.
Ince told a rally on Saturday he would lift the state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected president. He also vowed to reverse what opposition parties see as Turkey’s swing toward authoritarian rule under Erdogan.
“This is no longer a Turkey we want. Rights are violated, democracy is in terrible shape,” said health sector worker Sema, 50, after voting in Istanbul.
She and others in the city said they voted for the pro-Kurdish HDP, hoping it would exceed the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament. If it does so, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.

LIVE: Middle East takes more precautions as global fight against COVID-19 continues

Updated 27 min 32 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East takes more precautions as global fight against COVID-19 continues

  • The UAE extends a sanitization program with a 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew
  • Oman plans to fly back 800 nationals from the US and Canada

DUBAI: Governments in the Middle East are taking more precautionary measures, including extending stay-at-home campaigns, in a bid to stop the continuoud rise of coronavirus infections.

The total number of cases globally has reached more than 650,000 as of Sunday morning, with the US reporting the highest number of local infections at approximately 124,000.

COVID-19 has killed nearly 31,000 people globally so far.

Sunday, March 29 (All times in GMT)

14:30 - Spain announced on Sunday a record 838 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, while Morocco announced cases in the country had hit 450.

13:30 - The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose to 1,228, according to figures released on Sunday, an increase of 209. The previous increase saw the death toll rise by 260 people.

12:38 – Saudi Ministry of Health has reported 96 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths, increasing totals to 1299 cases and eight deaths.

10:16 – Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the coronavirus outbreak had entered a new phase as the total number of cases in the Russian capital exceeded 1,000 with many Muscovites going out despite a plea to stay home.

10:15 – Pope Francis backed a call by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

10:05– Lebanon reported 26 new coronavirus cases, bringing total number to 438. 

09:37 – Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 838 cases overnight to 6,528 the health ministry said on Saturday, marking the highest daily rise in fatalities.
The total number of those infected rose to 78,797 from 72,248 on Saturday.

09:36 – Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 2,640 and the number of infected people has reached 38,309, a health ministry official tweeted on Sunday.

09:21 – The Philippine health ministry on Sunday reported 343 new coronavirus cases, marking the country’s largest daily increase in infections, and three additional deaths.

09:19 – Malaysia reported 150 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the total to 2,470, the highest in Southeast Asia.
The number of deaths from the virus outbreak rose by seven to 34, the health ministry said. 

09:16 – Kuwaiti Ministry of Health has registered 20 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 255.

09:15 – Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the number of coronavirus infections increased to 106.

07:28 – Morocco’s Health Ministry has confirmed 35 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 437 and 26 deaths.

07:27 – Palestinian authorities have recorded six new coronavirus cases, increasing total to 104.

07:26 – Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 52,547 and 389 deaths.

06:50 – Oman has recorded 15 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected patients in the country to 167, the health ministry reported on Sunday. It also confirmed the recovery of 23 cases and urged everyone to follow its instructions with regards to social distancing.

03:14 – The US has reported the first prisoner to die of COVID-19.

01:41 – Mexico’s deputy health minister said measures asking citizens to stay at home could be extended.

The total number of infections in the country has reached 848 with 16 fatalities.

01:24 – The Center for Disease Control in the US has warned residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut against non-essential travel for 14 days.

01:16 – South Korea has reported 105 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 9,583.

Saturday, March 28 (All times in GMT)

20:10  – UAE helps Germany repatriate hundreds of tourists using Ras Al-Khaimah airport.

19:44 – Libya has recorded two new cases of coronavirus, increasing toll to three.
19:13 – Egypt has reported 40 new coronavirus cases and six deaths, bringing totals to 576 and 36, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
19:10 – Jordan has detected 11 new COVID-19 cases, increasing total number to 246.
17:05 – The Omani government is to fly about 800 of its citizens back to the Sultanate after calls for them to repatriated to their country amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, national daily Times of Oman reported on Saturday, citing the Washington embassy.

15:10 – UAE’s Ministry of Health has recorded 63 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 468.

14:48 – Rent payments in Dubai have been postponed for up to six months, national daily Gulf News reported, citing Dubai Free Zones.