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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday was leading a tightly contested presidential election with most of the ballots counted, as he seeks a new mandate in the face of a revitalized opposition and weakening economy.

Muharrem Ince, the main opposition's presidential candidate, stood at 29.4 percent nationwide, television channels said. If a candidate wins just over 50 percent of the vote, he will win the presidency, but if not, there will be a runoff on July 8.

In the parliamentary election, a "People Alliance" consisting of Erdogan's ruling party and a nationalist party led at around 59% with about 36% of ballot boxes counted.

Results being compiled by the Fair Election Platform, formed by opposition parties, also pointed to Erdogan winning the presidency in the first round with about 53 percent. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state and entrench one-man rule. They have said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raise fears about the fairness of Sunday's elections.

People arrive at a polling station to vote in snap twin Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in the Kurdish stronghold of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on June 24, 2018. There were no exit polls and the first results were expected later in the evening.

Erdogan counters that view, saying "Turkey is staging a democratic revolution". "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations".

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Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, argues the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation's 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.

Although Erdogan dominated airtime on a pliant mainstream media, Ince finished his campaign with eye-catching mass rallies, including a mega meeting in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands.

Mr. Ince told a rally on June 23 he would lift the state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected president. Turnout was good, President Erdogan said, as is customary in Turkey. Erdogan accused his late ally and now nemesis, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the coup.

"This is no longer a Turkey we want".

A coalition of parties have teamed up to challenge the hold that Mr Erdogan's AK party has on parliament - and the president risks losing his majority. If the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) wins seats by polling over the 10 per cent minimum threshold, the AKP will struggle to keep its overall majority.

Following the coup attempt, Turkey has arrested more than 40,000 people and sacked or suspended more than 100,000 in the military, civil service and private sector.


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