Erdogan leads by big margin in Turkey’s presidential election

June 24 (UPI) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking re-election and overall majority for his ruling party, has a commanding lead with 60 percent of the votes counted Sunday.

More than 56 million people were eligible to vote as they went to polls for the first time to simultaneously elect members of the parliament and president.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is running in an alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party to create the People’s Alliance.

Erdogan leads with 55.88 percent of the votes followed by Muharrem Ince at 28.97 percent, Meral Aksener at 7.45 percent and Selahattin Demirtas: 6.49 percent. If no one gains a 50 percent majority, Turkey will hold a run-off election on July 8.

With 57.82 percent of the parliamentary votes counted, the ruling party leads with 57.18 percent followed by the Nation Alliance with 31.84 percent.

Last year, Erdogan narrowly won a referendum to convert the country’s parliamentary system to a powerful executive presidency. The role of prime minister will be dissolved and the president gains the authority to issue laws by decree.

Ince, a former high school physics teacher, is 10 years younger than Erdogan, 64, who became president in 2014 but previously served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014.

Ince, who belongs to the secular Republican People’s Party, drew hundreds of thousands of supporters in Izmir on the Aegean coast on Wednesday.

Erdogan cast his vote at a school in Istanbul’s Uskudar with his wife, Emine.

“It [turnout] displays how advanced Turkish democracy is and how developed its democratic maturity is,” Erdogan said. “Turkey is experiencing a democratic revolution with this election,” he added.

Voter turnout in the presidential election was 86.82 percent and parliamentary turnout was 87 percent, according to state broadcaster TRT.

Election board chief Sadi Guven said officials were taking “administrative and judicial initiatives” over reported security problems as people voted in Sanliurfa, in the country’s southeast, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.