Lazy eyes listen
The polls in Turkey have opened for crucial presidential and parliamentary elections, which will determine whether incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan retains power following a closely contested race.
Polling stations started at 8 a.m. local time in 81 provinces, with about 200,000 vote boxes deployed nationwide. Around 60 million individuals are eligible to vote, and 1.8 million people have already voted abroad. Members of parliament and the president are both elected for five-year terms.
News, forecasts, and comments on the elections are prohibited until 6 p.m. local time, one hour after the polls close, and results are not authorized until 9 p.m.
The Supreme Election Board’s head, Ahmet Yener, stated on Friday that the authorities had taken “all measures for healthy and secure elections,” including strengthening the electronic infrastructure against power outages and cyber-attacks.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on the contentious presidential election. Erdogan, the incumbent, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the social-democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP), are the two primary candidates. Recent surveys show a close contest between the two. A run-off election will be place on May 28 if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote.
Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu disagree on a number of issues. Erdogan has maintained a course of relative geopolitical independence as Turkey’s prime minister and later president, guiding the country away from EU integration and nurturing close connections with Moscow – a strategy that has not changed, even throughout the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Kilicdaroglu, on the other hand, has taken a stronger pro-EU stance, promising to comply with Western sanctions against Russia if elected.
The parliamentary election pits The People’s Alliance (which currently holds a parliamentary majority and is made up of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party) against the opposition Nation Alliance, which supports Kilicdaroglu for president and is made up of six parties.