Early results in Turkey's snap elections put President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of his nearest rival, in the biggest challenge faced by the veteran leader in his 15 years in power.
With just over 50% of the votes for the presidential race counted, Erdogan was at 56.5%, a comfortable lead over main opposition candidate Muharrem Ince, who has 28.6%.
The results, however, could yet change significantly as more votes are counted from other regions of the country, some of which are loyal to Ince and his secular Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Erdogan has sailed through several elections to become Turkey’s longest-serving leader. But a strong campaign by Ince led to speculation that Erdogan may not secure the 50% of the ballots needed to win re-election in the first round. If no single candidate wins a majority of the popular vote, a run-off will be held on July 8.
A run-off vote would be potentially dangerous for Erdogan. Ince, a former physics teacher, is a more charismatic opponent than Erdogan is used to facing.
Some 59 million people were eligible to vote in both presidential and parliamentary elections Sunday, and participation was high at 86.79%, election commission results show. Parliamentary votes are being counted simultaneously and results will come after the presidential count.