Turkey: Tense Race in Final Hours Before Elections, Conflict Over Istanbul

Turkey: Tense Race in Final Hours Before Elections, Conflict Over Istanbul

Sunday, 24 June, 2018 - 07:45
Erdogan's supporters in Istanbul. Reuters
Ankara - Saiid Abdulrazzak
The final hours before Turkey's early presidential and parliamentary elections were marked by tense activity by presidential candidates and political parties.

Focus was concentrated on Istanbul as it embraces the largest number of voters, including 10 million 559,686 out of 56 million 322,632 voters all in all.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued for the second consecutive day his tour around Istanbul neighborhoods.

He held four public conferences in four different neighborhoods in west and the city center, calling on all the voters to head towards the polls and vote.

Speaking at an election rally in Istanbul's Esenyurt district, Erdogan assured his supporters that the authorities had taken all necessary precautions to ensure the security of the ballot boxes in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

"We have taken foolproof measures," he said.

Representatives from every party will be present at the polling stations, Erdogan stated, urging his supporters to vote and have tolerance.

He also stressed that the new presidential system in Turkey will lead to the country’s advancement, to transcend the level of contemporary civilizations and will place it in the ranks of the ten largest economies in the world and one of major countries such as USA and Russia.

He pointed out that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) has achieved a lot in Turkey during his reign, and it will work to accomplish many other things, which others cannot imagine, in reference to the opposition.

Moreover, he called on citizens of Kurdish origin to be cautious and not to be fooled and dragged behind conspiracies because his party does not distinguish at all between different races; instead, it urges unity and solidarity away from discrimination.

The Turkish President praised the mega-projects implemented by his party during the past years and slammed his main rival, Muharrem Ince, for his attempts to downplay the importance of these projects.

Ince, the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), for his part, drew huge crowds, especially in the big cities.

On Saturday police said at least one million people had turned out in Istanbul Maltepe district to hear Ince promise to reverse - if he wins the presidency - what he sees as Turkey’s turn towards more authoritarian rule under Erdogan.

Ince also repeated his accusation of political bias by Turkey’s state media, which has given Erdogan and the AK Party heavy coverage while often neglecting to broadcast opposition rallies.

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