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在线翻译:
szdaily -> World -> 
Turks vote for president, parliament
    2018-06-25  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

TURKS began voting yesterday for a new president and parliament in elections that pose the biggest ballot box challenge to Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.

The elections will also usher in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

“This stability must continue and that can happen with Erdogan so I voted for him,” said janitor Mehmet Yildirim, 48, in Istanbul. “I also think that with Erdogan, we stand stronger against the West.”

More than 56 million people were registered to vote at 180,000 ballot boxes across Turkey.

Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, moved the elections forward from November 2019, arguing the new powers would better enable him to tackle the nation’s mounting economic problems — the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year — and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

But he reckoned without Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey’s long-demoralized and divided opposition.

Addressing a rally in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people, Ince promised to reverse what he and opposition parties see as a swing toward authoritarian rule under Erdogan in the country of 81 million people.

“If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to ... Fear will continue to reign ... If Ince wins, the courts will be independent,” said Ince, adding he would lift Turkey’s state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected.

Turkey has been under emergency rule for nearly two years following an abortive military coup in July 2016.

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on the preacher’s followers in Turkey. The United Nations say some 160,000 people have been detained and nearly as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked.

The president’s critics, including the European Union, which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.

Erdogan, who defends his tough measures as essential for national security, told his supporters at rallies Saturday that if re-elected he would press ahead with more of the big infrastructure projects that have helped turn Turkey into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies during his time in office.

(SD-Agencies)

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