The latest news on Turkey's presidential election.
ISTANBUL - Turkish voters awaited the results of the runoff election to select the country's new president on Sunday. This was the biggest political challenge for Recep Tayyip Erdoan during his 20 years of being the leading politician in a NATO nation at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Mr. Erdogan had a substantial lead going into the runoff on Sunday. He was ahead of his main opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, in the first round, which took place on May 14. At that time, he was about 4.5 points ahead. Both failed to reach an absolute majority and were sent to a runoff.
The majority of the Parliament was also held by Mr. Erdogan and his political allies, which allowed him to claim that he would be able to form a united, more effective government if he remained in power.
"Our nation in all its colors will triumph," said Mr. Erdogan during his last campaign rally held on Saturday in Istanbul. The democracy for which we have paid a high price will triumph.
In his final campaign event, held on Saturday, Mr. Kilicdaroglu promised to ease the economic hardships of Turkish families.
Why am I in politics if I can't solve all your problems? He said. "If a child is going to bed hungry, then why am I in the political arena?"
Some voters turned against the president because of a cost-of living crisis, while powerful earthquakes that struck southern Turkey in February and killed over 50,000 people prompted accusations about his government's initial slowness to respond.
Critics have described Mr. Erdogan's aspirational autocracy, who has undermined Turkey's institutional framework and led the country to a one-man regime. His ties with Russia are causing concern among Western allies in light of Moscow's invasion into Ukraine.
A coalition of opposition parties has come together to try to remove Mr. Erdogan. They have rallied behind Mr. Kilicdaroglu who is a former civil service employee and has pledged to improve Turkish democracy as well as ties with Western countries.
The latest news:
The polling stations closed across the nation at 10 a.m. Eastern (10 p.m. Local) on Sunday. Initial results should be available in a couple of hours.
Erdogan has been campaigning vigorously to promote his vision of Turkey, a growing economic and political power, while attempting to portray his opponents as inept and weak. Erdogan has tried to associate them with terrorism, after they received support from the main pro-Kurdish Turkish party. He accuses the pro-Kurdish group of being complicit with Kurdish militants that have fought the Turkish state over decades for autonomy. The main pro Kurdish party denied any links with the militants.
Kilicdaroglu had positioned himself before the first round as Mr. Erdogan’s opposite, an Everyman who was more understanding of the concerns of ordinary people. Kilicdaroglu, who came in second place in the first round of voting, has now adopted a more aggressive approach to win over far-right nationalists. He has promised to deport millions refugees within the next year.
NATO allies, including the United States will closely monitor the results. Relations between Mr. Erdogan and the United States have been strained due to his efforts to impede the expansion of the alliance, by blocking Finland's entry into the alliance and refusing Sweden's admission. He has condemned Russia's invasion in Ukraine but has also increased trade with Moscow, and has maintained close ties with Vladimir V. Putin.