Turkey today votes for a president and members of the 600-seat parliament. The main rivals for the post of head of state are the current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
"These elections are a test for the new governance model of 85 million-strong Turkey, for the presidential republic," sociologist Prof. Ishaq Torun noted in an interview with the National Radio and described the voters' attitudes:
"First on Turkey's agenda is the economy, the financial crisis. Turkey entered an inflationary spiral. Despite the great economic steps taken by the Justice and Development Party (Erdogan), the result of the economic policies is an inflationary environment. This seriously affected the distribution of income. It caused fatigue and despair in people".
A presidential candidate must receive more than half of the vote to win in the first round. If he fails, the second will be on May 28. The winner will be president for a term of five years. Besides the two main candidates, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, there is also a third contender - Sinan Ogan. The fourth - Muharrem Ince withdrew. However, his votes in today's vote will be considered valid, decided the High Electoral Commission.
Erdogan, 69, who has ruled for 20 years, said he would accept the results of the vote and step down if he lost. He was adamant that he would do what democracy demands, but he also expressed confidence that he would be re-elected for another term and that he would secure a parliamentary majority.
"My people will not hand over this country to you," Erdogan vowed.
He sharply criticized the statements of his main rival that he would impose sanctions on Russia and reminded that Moscow is an important economic partner.
The 74-year-old Kılıçdaroğlu accused Russia of meddling in the election, which it categorically denied. He promised to work for the people and for democracy:
"These elections are very important for our democracy, for the future of the republic and for our children, and we paid a high price in the name of democracy."
The vote comes amid public discontent over economic problems, the effects of major earthquakes in February and the presence in the country of more than 3 million Syrian refugees.
The latest polls show different winners - Erdogan and Kılıçdaroğlu and a small difference between them and do not answer the key question: will there be a new era in Turkey?