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Opening of polling stations to voters in the second round of the Turkish elections


Polling stations opened their doors on Sunday morning to Turkish voters in the second round of elections, the outcome of which will decide whether to turn a page or continue the era of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, if he wins, will usher in a third decade at the head of the country.

Polling stations opened at eight o’clock local time (5 GMT) and closed at 17:00 (14:00 GMT). The Turks of the diaspora have already cast their ballots. Results are expected in the evening.

Erdogan, who has been in power for twenty years, is running this unprecedented second round in the presidential elections, in the front-runner position against Social-Democrat Kamal Kilicdaroglu.

The 60 million voters must choose between two visions for the country.

Either they choose continuity with a possible tendency to authoritarianism with the current 69-year-old Islamic conservative president, or a return to quiet democracy, according to the words of his opponent, a former public servant who is seventy-four.

The 49.5 percent of the votes Erdogan, the former mayor of Istanbul, won in the first round on May 14 attests to the broad support he still finds among conservatives despite the country’s runaway inflation.

This support was evident even in the affected areas, which were hit by the violent earthquake on the sixth of February, which resulted in the deaths of at least 50,000 people and the displacement of three million others.

Competing him in this second round is Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the “democratic grandfather” as the economist likes to present himself, who was unable to take advantage of the dangerous economic crisis that burdens families and youth to outperform the current president.

Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, promised “the return of spring”, the parliamentary system, and the independence of the judiciary and the press.

“We are tired of the regime’s repression and its politics,” said teacher Ugur Berlas, 39, who will vote for the opposition candidate and “Change” party.

However, Kilicdaroglu is not the favorite in the second round, after he received 45% of the vote two weeks ago. Despite renewed support for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, opinion polls show it is five percentage points behind the country’s president, who won a parliamentary majority in the May 14 legislative elections.

million watchers

Kilicdaroglu was shocked that he did not win the presidential elections in the first round, as his camp expected, but he returned to the scene of the attack four days later.

Unable to reach mainstream media, especially state TV stations devoted to Erdogan’s campaign, Kilicdaroglu campaigned mainly on Twitter while his supporters tried to re-mobilize voters through home visits in major cities.

The goal is to attract 8.3 million registered voters who did not vote in the elections on May 14, despite the high participation rate of 87%.

On the other hand, Erdogan intensified his electoral rallies, based on the changes he imposed in the country since he came to power as prime minister in 2003 and then as president from 2014.

Erdogan, who raised the minimum wage three times in the space of a year, made more generous promises during the campaign, including grants to students who lost relatives in the earthquake.

“Sunday is a special day for all of us. The time for coups and military rule is over,” Erdogan said on Saturday.

In his last activity in the electoral campaign, the cause turned to the shrine of his political reference, former nationalist-Islamist Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was overthrown and executed by military personnel in 1961.

The date for the second round of elections falls on the tenth anniversary of the start of the “Gezi” demonstrations that began in Istanbul and spread throughout the country. These demonstrations constituted the first wave of protests against Erdogan’s rule, and they were severely suppressed.

The 60-year-old retired Zirin Al-Tayali said that the most important thing on Sunday is that the ballot be “fair” and not be marred by “any fraud.”

To this end, the opposition decided to deploy “five observers for each ballot box,” a total of one million people to monitor the course of the vote.

A joint mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe concluded that the first session took place in a “competitive atmosphere” and that it was “limited” due to the “unwarranted advances” given to Erdogan by state media.

Turkey’s allies, especially in NATO, are closely following the results of the elections, which are supposed to be issued on Sunday evening.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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