Turkey votes in landmark presidential election

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Voting is under way across Turkey for the country’s first ever presidential election put to a popular vote.

Three candidates are vying for the , including current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

If none of the candidates gets above 50% of the vote, a second round will be held on 24 August.

Mr Erdogan, 60, says that if he wins he wants to turn the largely ceremonial post of president into the country’s executive powerhouse.

He has been prime minister since 2003 and is barred from standing for that office again.

‘Show our colours’

The BBC’s Mark Lowen Ankara says Mr Erdogan is a divisive figure adored by his supporters for transforming the economy but hated by critics for an abrasive style and Islamist leanings.

Turkey – wedged between the turmoil of Iraq, Syria and Ukraine – is an important ally for the West, our correspondent adds, and whoever becomes head of state will hold a key geopolitical position. [eap_ad_1] Mr Erdogan’s two rivals are a little-known diplomat, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.

Selahattin Demirtas is a lawyer who became involved in groups in Turkey’s Kurdish region Mr Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the two main opposition parties in parliament, the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

He served as the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation from 2004-14.

Mr Ihsanoglu has vowed to uphold the president’s traditional role, insisting it is not up to the head of state to be involved in day-to-day running of politics.

Mr Demirtas, 41, is a leader of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and a well-known politician from the Kurdish minority.

Correspondents say he has focused his campaign on championing the cause of the oppressed, the poor, the young and the working classes.

In his final in the city of Konya on Saturday, Mr Erdogan vowed to raise Turkey’s democratic standards and economic record to create a “world leader and global power”.

“There is no unattainable dream or unattainable objective for this nation,” he said.

Mr Demirtas held his final rally in the city of Izmir.

“We cannot our union by accusing each other. Let’s show our colours at the ballot box tomorrow with our oppressed identities and faiths,” he said. (BBC)