Istanbul, Turkey – Turks headed to the polls on Sunday in Turkey’s first-ever presidential election by popular vote.
About 53 million people were eligible to cast their ballots, as early polls showed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the frontrunner.
Erdogan’s main opponent, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, was backed by the country’s two major opposition parties, the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Selahattin Demirtas, a senior figure among Turkey’s Kurdish minority, was the third option for president. Demirtas is supported by the People’s Democracy Party (HDP), a pro-Kurdish party.
A survey conducted by Turkish pollster A&G put Erdogan at 55.1 percent, with Ihsanoglu predicted to earn 33 percent and Demirtas 11.6 percent.
Erdogan’s campaign focused strongly on infrastructure projects, foreign policy, economic reforms, and a new constitution featuring a presidential system, while Ihsanoglu has stressed “unity” and “neutrality”. Demirtas, meanwhile, has come out strongly on a range of social issues, from LGBT rights to environmental conservation.
A candidate must receive more than 50 percent support in the first round to be elected, or a runoff vote will be held on August 24.