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Erdogan leads Turkey presidential vote, early results show

The vote will complete Turkey’s transition to a new executive presidential system.

Early results from Turkey’s presidential elections show incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the lead, with Muharrem Ince in second place.

Turkey’s official Anadolu News Agency said that with 22% of the country’s ballot boxes counted, Mr Erdogan was at 59.1% of the vote, with Mr Ince at 26.5%.

Sunday’s high-stakes presidential and parliamentary elections could consolidate Mr Erdogan’s grip on power or curtail his vast political ambitions.

The vote will complete Turkey’s transition to a new executive presidential system, a move approved in a controversial referendum last year.

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Muharrem Ince, presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is hoping to retain its majority in parliament.

Mr Erdogan — who has been in power since 2003 — is however facing a more robust and united opposition, which has vowed to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances.

It has condemned what it calls Mr Erdogan’s “one-man rule”.

Five candidates are running against Mr Erdogan in the presidential race.

Although Mr Erdogan is seen as the front-runner, he must secure more than 50% of the vote for an outright win. If the threshold is not reached, a run-off could be held on July 8 between the leading two contenders.

Mr Erdogan’s main challenger is 54-year-old former physics teacher Mr Ince, who is backed by the centre-left main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and has wooed crowds with an unexpectedly engaging election campaign.

His rallies in Turkey’s three main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir drew massive numbers.

Turkey will also be electing 600 politicians to parliament — 50 more than in the previous assembly.

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