Turkey elections: Early results show Erdogan takes lead in presidential race

Turks to decide on Erdogan this Sunday

President Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party had 43.1 percent of the votes with 90.17 percent of votes counted in Turkey's parliamentary elections, CNN Turk and local broadcasters said on Sunday.

But Muharrem İnce, the candidate of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), has galvanised Turkey's opposition with feisty performance at campaign rallies.

If no presidential candidate wins more than 50% in the June 24 vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8.

Ince, head of the Republican People's Party and the main opposition presidential candidate, urged monitors and citizens to protect ballot boxes on voting day against fraud.

CHP party spokesman Bulent Tezcan criticised state media coverage of the election results, saying they were trying to manipulate the public's perception of the results in order to demoralise Mr. Erdogan's opponents and encourage election monitors to stop scrutinising the counting of votes.

It has condemned what it calls Mr Erdogan's "one-man rule".

Polling stations opened on 24 June for the more than 56 million people registered to vote for a new president and parliament in Turkey. There were no exit polls and the first results were expected later in the evening.

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Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2ndR) and his wife Emine Erdogan (R) leave after casting their ballots at a polling station during snap twin Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections, in Istanbul, on June 24, 2018.

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

After leaving the polling station, he told reporters that Turkey would rise "above the level of contemporary civilizations" with the introduction of the presidential system.

Voting in Istanbul along with his son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan said he expected turnout to be strong, in an indication of "how mature democracy is in Turkey". If the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10% minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority.

Erdogan has at times seemed on the back foot, making promises to lift the state of emergency imposed after the coup bid and ensuring the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey go home only after similar pledges by Ince.

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.

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. If it does so, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.

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