Turkey's Erdogan faces resurgent opposition in twin election test

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

People arrive at a polling station to vote in snap twin Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in the Kurdish stronghold of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on June 24, 2018.

Republican Peoples Party's (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem Ince greets people after casting his ballot at a polling station during the parliamentary and presidential elections, in Yalova on June 24, 2018.

The opposition has also alleged heavy bias in favour of Erdogan by state media, with news channel TRT Haber not showing a single second of Ince's giant final Istanbul rally live.

If Mr Erdogan wins more than 50% of the overall vote, he will be declared the victor and avoid the need for a second round of voting.

The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president will be the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in a April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

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Mr Erdogan is expected to be re-elected but might be forced into a run-off by the opposition. "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations".

Unal said the security of not only AK Party votes but votes for all political parties was "our honor".

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency said challenger Muharrem Ince was in second place, with almost 29% of the vote.

Opposition parties and NGOs have deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to ward against possible electoral fraud.

As of 15:50 GMT, Erdogan is leading in the polls with almost 60 percent of the vote after 20 percent of the ballot boxes were opened. They have said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raise fears about the vote's fairness.

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But he reckoned without Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralized and divided opposition. Erdogan accused his late ally and now nemesis, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the coup. Both Erdogan and Ince have said they will lift the state of emergency as president.

Turkey has been under emergency rule - which restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees - for almost two years since an attempted coup in 2016. Turnout was good, President Erdogan said, as is customary in Turkey.

The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.

Erdogan needs over 50% to retain the presidency in the first round, but these are still early results and the outcome could yet change.

"This is no longer a Turkey we want".

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Mr Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is hoping to retain its majority in parliament. If the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10 per cent minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority.

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