Turkey’s AK Party, opposition scramble for votes ahead of polls

The vote in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary polls will be held simultaneously for the first time on Sunday, in line with last year’s constitutional changes that will transform the country’s parliamentary system into an executive presidential one.

The race will take place under a state of emergency that has been ongoing since a coup attempt against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.

Erdogan, who seeks to keep his seat with increased powers, and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) joined forces with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to create the People’s Alliance for the parliamentary election. Erdogan is the bloc’s joint presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, four opposition parties formed the Nation Alliance to challenge Erdogan and his party.

The bloc includes main opposition centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), the right-wing Good Party (IYI) and ultraconservative Felicity Party (SP), with backing from the minor centre-right Democrat Party (DP). They have individual candidates in the presidential race, who pledged to back each other in a potential second round.

The other significant party in the race is the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) with its imprisoned popular candidate Selahattin Demirtas.

Party leaders, members and volunteers have been campaigning hard in order to win more votes for their movements and candidates.

In the country’s commercial capital, Istanbul, the election fever has swept the city ahead of the crucial polls.

Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wants to keep his position with more powers, has been ruling Turkey for more than 15 years.

Erdogan’s supporters can be found in almost every square of the Istanbul metropolis, campaigning for the AK Party leader’s victory.

The AK Party, backed by the far-right MHP, had campaigned in last year’s referendum to increase the powers of the president.

After the polls, the president will have significant executive powers, and the prime minister’s position will be abolished, among other changes.

Supporters of the CHP and presidential candidate Muharrem Ince dance to the music coming from the party’s campaign vehicle in Istanbul.

Surveys suggest that Muharrem Ince is the most likely candidate to make it to the second round of the presidential polls with Erdogan.

The upcoming elections will also determine the composition of the incoming 600-member parliament.

On June 7, citizens abroad started voting at ballot stations set up in 123 diplomatic missions around the world and 34 entry points to Turkey.

The pro-Kurdish HDP recently declared that it will back whoever races against Erdogan in the second round of the presidential polls.

IYI Party is led by right-wing popular politician Meral Aksener, who formed the party after being sacked from MHP in late 2016.


Source : www.aljazeera.com

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