Istanbul, May 14 (EFE).- Polling stations in Turkey closed on Sunday evening after nine hours of voting to elect a new president and parliament for a five-year term, in a closely contested race between the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades, is predicted to suffer a narrow defeat in the election.
Election day in Turkey was mostly incident-free, although the central electoral council reported the death of a polling station member.
The opposition has accused the government of irregularities and vote manipulation.
Despite that, turnout has been higher than in previous elections and may cross the usual 80 percent mark.
Canan Kaftancioglu, president of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has said the turnout in the election could reach as high as 90 percent.
Over 64 million eligible voters had to elect a new president and 600 lawmakers, with 5 million first-timers — accounting for 8 percent of the electorate.
Polls suggest that the majority of these first-time voters will support the opposition.
According to the latest polls, opposition leader Kiliçdaroglu could win by a narrow margin over Erdogan.
However, it is uncertain whether either candidate will secure an absolute majority in the first round of the presidential election, potentially leading to a second round in two weeks.
The nationalist candidate Sinan Ogan may receive no more than 3 percent of the vote, which could impact the chances of the two leading candidates by taking away necessary votes to secure an absolute majority.
Surveys suggest that it is unlikely for the Islamist AKP party led by Erdogan to renew its absolute majority in the parliamentary elections, even with the support of the ultranationalist MHP.
Similarly, a coalition between the CHP and the nationalist Iyi party is also not expected to reach an absolute majority.
Therefore, the leftist HDP (People’s Democratic Party) may play a decisive role in the new government formation.
The campaign in the run-up to the Turkish elections has been extremely tense, with Erdogan even comparing the polls to the failed coup of 2016.
It has sparked concerns that Erdogan may not accept a potential defeat or that his supporters may cause riots that could disrupt a peaceful power transfer.
In response to concerns about his potential refusal to accept a poll verdict, Erdogan said Friday that he would respect the outcome democratically.
There is a restriction on news related to the election until 6:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. GMT), and the press is prohibited from reporting the results until 9:00 p.m. local time (6:00 p.m. GMT) unless the Electoral Commission lifts the embargo earlier.