Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Erdogan expects Turkey’s development level to reach the levels of Russia, US

Erdogan expects Turkey’s development level to reach the levels of Russia, US

Turks began voting today for a new president and parliament in elections that pose the biggest challenge to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago. But if the alliance loses, there will be uncertainty over whether the inexperienced opposition will be able to fix the economy and improve ties with the West.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking re-election for a new five-year term, which he says will bring prosperity and stability to Turkey, especially after a 2016 failed coup attempt.

The 64-year-old Erdogan called the elections more than a year ahead of schedule in a bid to usher in an executive presidency with sweeping powers.

The vote will be closely watched by the European Union - which Erdogan says he still wants Turkey to join despite the accession process grinding to a halt - and the United States which has seen no improvement in ties with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally under Donald Trump. Few newspapers or other media now openly criticise the government and he has received far more election coverage than other presidential candidates.

Sunday's elections were originally scheduled for late 2019. He warned supporters that a "fear regime" would continue if Erdogan is re-elected, predicting that financial markets would be rattled and the national lira currency would decline further.

"Our country needs fresh blood like Muharrem Ince, that is why I am here", said Nuray Ugurlu, 54, who said she was attending a political rally for the first time because of concern over the rapidly rising cost of living. According to the latest United Nations figures, some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more sacked in the crackdown.

"But if Ince wins, it will not just be Ince who wins..."

"The opposition will not be a nuisance anymore with the new presidential system", said another Erdogan supporter, retired sailor Engin Ozmen, 60. If a candidate wins just over 50 percent of the vote, he will win the presidency, but if not, there will be a runoff on July 8. If the HDP exceeds the 10 per cent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority. "Backing the HDP means supporting democracy".

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