Presidential candidates vote in Turkish poll -UPDATED

Turks voted in their country's first presidential election with Tayyip Erdogan poised to win and fulfil his dream of what he calls a "new Turkey"

Presidential candidates vote in Turkish poll -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

AK Party candidate and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cast his vote in Istanbul's Uskudar district.

A rapturous crowd cheered and chanted "Turkey is proud of you" and "President Erdogan" as he emerged from a school where he voted with his wife and children on the Asian side of Istanbul. He waved and shook people's hands.

"The (voters') decision will be crucial as an elected president and government will hand-in-hand carry our Turkey decisively towards 2023," he told reporters.

Opinion polls put Erdogan, 60, far ahead of two rivals competing for a five-year term as president. Parliament has in the past chosen the head of state but this was changed under a law pushed through by Erdogan's government.

In a tea house in the working-class Istanbul district of Tophane, men watching election coverage on television praised Erdogan as a pious man of the people who had boosted Turkey's status both economically and on the international stage.

"Erdogan is on the side of the underdog. He is the defender against injustice. While the Arab world was silent, he spoke out against Israel on Gaza," said Murat, 42, a jeweller, who declined to give his family name.

"This country was ruined by the old politicians. They lied to us. They caused economic crises, the PKK violence," he said. Erdogan has opened a peace process with Kurdish PKK militants to end a conflict which has killed 40,000 people in 30 years.

Opposition presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu cast his vote in Istanbul’s Sariyer district on Sunday.

Speaking to journalists after voting, he said he is expecting a transparent and decent election in the first poll for Turks to choose their president by popular vote.

“Turkey is striving to become a first-class democratic country,” Ihsanoglu, said. “I hope it will succeed today.”

Ihsanoglu, the joint candidate for the Republican People’s Part and the Nationalist Movement Party, is viewed as the main challenger to current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, standing for the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Meanwhile, Selahattin Demirtas, the presidential candidate for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party, has cast his vote in the country's presidential election on Sunday.

“Turkey has experienced a huge leap in politics. This election is an important step,” said Demirtas after voting in the city of Kayapinar in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

Demirtas said that, no matter who wins the election, Turkey’s struggle for democracy will not be over.

“The fight for democracy will continue,” he said.

Turkish president casts vote in race to succeed him

Turkish President Abdullah Gul voted in the presidential election on Sunday.

“I hope the presidential election will be beneficial for Turkey, I hope it will bring goodness,” he said Gul after placing his vote in Ankara.

Gul was pictured with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe election observers after voting.

Turks voted for the country’s first directly elected president, as previous presidents were selected by lawmakers in the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

More than 53 million Turks are eligible to vote, which is widely seen as a referendum on the leadership of current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, standing for the Justice and Development Party.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Ağustos 2014, 17:14

Muhammed Öylek