General Election today
Turkey is holding its general election today in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is hoping to win his third, and last term, in office.
Around 50 million Turkish voters will vote at 200,000 polling stations for 7,500 candidates from 15 political parties and 203 independents. Voting started at 7 a.m. local time in the 32 Eastern and Southern provinces and will close at 4 p.m.; elsewhere in the country voting began at 8 a.m. and will close at 5 p.m.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is expected to win by a wide margin, but it will need at least 367 of the 550 seats in the Grand National Assembly if it is to carry out its main election pledge of changing the 1982 constitution.
The AKP started in their efforts to change the constitution in 2007 but were blocked by the opposition parties. The 367 seats would mean that they would have the 2/3rds required to make changes without opposition support.
The AKP has a rule which bans any party member serving more than three terms in parliament. That means that the Prime Minister would not be eligible to stand next time. Opposition parties, who accuse him of becoming increasingly autocratic, are concerned that he wants to create an Executive Presidency for himself which would avoid this rule and make him an autocratic ruler. The AKP stress that they want to make the constitution more democratic and less state centred. If they succeed then they have said that they will have the new constitution in place within a year.
The other big issue of the campaign has been the continuing Kurdish question. Violence in the south east of the country has been ongoing since 1984 and has killed around 40,000 people. The AKP has promised to resolve the issue through peaceful means.
First results are expected around 8 p.m. local time.