At the polling station located in the district Cankaya in Ankara, which was visited by a Sputnik correspondent, all voters were in good spirits. The election atmosphere of calm and celebration was striking, with everyone dressed in festive clothes. At the exit from the election, everyone could buy water, tea and pastries.
The voters who visited the polling station in Cankaya were clearly divided into supporters of incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) Party and Muharrem Ince from the leading Turkish opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). However, the exposure to different political views did not hamper the atmosphere of joy and goodwill.
Polls have opened in #Turkey where over 56 million registered voters will cast their votes in the tightest elex in years. Voting to continue till 5 pm. First results expected around 9 pm. Turkey holds its breath as there’s too much at stake for all sides!#TurkeyElection— Selin Girit (@selingirit) June 24, 2018
The elections are taking place earlier than it was initially expected due to the decision of Erdogan, who explained it by the necessity to ensure a rapid transition to a presidential republic and enforce the constitutional amendments that were adopted after a constitutional referendum in April 2017. The constitutional amendments are set to enter into force following both elections.
A supporter of the ruling AK Party, Hurriet Ozsoy, has backed the transition to a presidential republic in last year's constitutional referendum that has seen a highly divisive result of 51 percent supporting the reform and 49 percent against the move.
"But I think that Erdogan will win. In any case, I hope that as a result, Turkey will win, but it will be more democratic. I think that the presidential system will be better than the previous one, because it will reduce bureaucracy and speed up decision-making processes," Ozsoy told Sputnik.
At the same time, the AK party supporter said that the opposition CHP party may gain an unexpectedly large number of votes in the parliament and thus "change the scenario."
"This election is very important for us, because they carry a new system – the presidential one. I think that our president made this decision for a reason, and in order to improve the situation in Turkey," Ozsoy underlined.
Surely the photo of the day so far:) Turkey always has high voter turnout over 80%, today is expected to be no different judging by this photo… #TurkeyElections2018 #Secim2018 pic.twitter.com/s6mWsrIgD2— Yvo Fitzherbert (@yvofitz) June 24, 2018
At the same time, Simten, a supporter of the leading opposition CHP party, has backed Ince due to the candidate’s virtues and noted that the number of CHP supporters in Turkey might be even higher than the polls have previously indicated.
"We voted for CHP. In this area, everyone votes for the CHP, even if they do not speak openly… I have been following the activities of Muharrem Ince for four years, he is always true to his words and I believe that he can lead Turkey forward," Simten told Sputnik.
The CHP supporter urged Erdogan to step down "at last" and condemned the "state of fear" that the Turkish nation now lives in in due to the incumbent president’s policy.
"These elections affect not only our life, but also the lives of our children and grandchildren. If Erdogan is elected president, most likely we will have to leave this country," Simten stressed.
Six candidates are officially running for president, including Erdogan and Ince as well as Selahattin Demirtas from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP), Meral Aksener from the Iyi (Good) Party, Temel Karamollaoglu from the Felicity Party and Dogu Perincek from the Patriotic Party.
Parties taking part in the parliamentary elections are AK and CHP, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the Good (IYI) Party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Saadet (Felicity) Party, Democrat Party, the Patriotic (Vatan) Party and the Free Cause (Huda-Par) Party.