Erdogan leads early count in pivotal Turkey poll

Turks to decide on Erdogan this Sunday

Voters go to the polls in elections in Turkey

Ballots for Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections are pictured at a polling station in Yalova, Turkey June 24, 2018. Left and right: Voters casting their ballots this morning.

Today's election is the first since Turkey switched to a presidential system of governance after the April 2017 constitutional referendum.

The president had for the last two years ruled under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of the 2016 failed coup, with tens of thousands arrested in an unprecedented crackdown which cranked up tensions with the West.

At the same time, the Erdogan-led Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party formed People's Alliance in order to get half of the seats in the parliament; while the opposition parties including the Republican People's Party, the Good Party and the Felicity Party formed a National Alliance.

For the first time, bedridden voters - more than 17,000 - are being visited at their homes by election officials who will pick up their ballots.

He said told his followers: "If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to, fear will continue to reign".

Election turnout nationwide was very high at around 87 percent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.

The HDP's presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, has waged his campaign from a prison near the Greek border as he awaits trial on terrorism-related charges, which he denies.

Six candidates, including Erdogan, are competing for the presidency.

The biggest threat is posed by Muharrem Ince of the secular Republican People's Party (CHP).

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Voting has started. After 15 years in power that have already seen Turkey transformed, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to win a new mandate and rank as the key figure of his country's modern history alongside its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Also challenging Erdogan is 61-year-old former Interior Minister Meral Aksener, the only female presidential candidate in the race. Religiously observant Muslims form the bedrock of Erdogan's support.

Some 1.49 million expatriates voted in a 13-day period between June 7-19 at 123 Turkish missions overseas.

As he cast his vote, Erdogan said the changes marked a "democratic revolution", although his opponents regard the most recent phase of his rule differently.

More than 50 million voters will head to the polls on Sunday to choose both the president and representatives to the Parliament. "I'm declaring 36 hours of mobilisation", he told the crowd.

State-run Anadolu news agency said "legal action" had been launched in the southeast against 10 foreigners - French, German and Italian citizens - who identified themselves as election monitors but did not have accreditation.

"Necessary administrative and legal steps have been taken regarding claims on security issues at some polling stations in Suruc", election body chief Sadi Guven said.

The pro-PKK People's Democratic Party (HDP) also guaranteed to enter Parliament after passing the 10 percent threshold by receiving 10.2 percent of the votes, mostly from the southeastern and eastern provinces of Turkey.

President Recep Erdogan has since the attempted coup acted to reassert his position and his power, including through the imposition of emergency law that enables him to pass legislation without parliamentary scrutiny or intervention from the judiciary.

With more than 62 percent of the parliamentary votes counted, the AK Party's People's Alliance was ahead with 56.7 percent of the votes and the Nation's Alliance was in second place with 32.1 percent of the votes.

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