Turkey's Erdogan, main rival stage final election rallies

Erdogan seeks to cement power in Turkey's high-stakes votes

Erdogan leads in Turkey’s presidential election – preliminary results

The 64-year-old Erdogan called the elections more than a year ahead of schedule in a bid to usher in an executive presidency with sweeping powers.

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

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during an election rally in Istanbul, Turkey June 23, 2018.

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If President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party's alliance with the nationalist MHP emerge victorious, investors may see more of the same policies that have hit Turkish assets hard in recent months. He said the new system will bring stability and prosperity to Turkey, but critics warn it could lead to a "one-man rule" amid signs of an unsound economy. He warned supporters that a "fear regime" would continue if Erdogan is re-elected, predicting that financial markets would be rattled and the national lira currency would decline further. "Turkey will win!" said Ince, who boasted of holding 107 rallies in the last 50 days. After parliament approved the bill on April 20, the two leaders declared they would enter both elections in a "People's Alliance", officially launched on May 1.

Five candidates are running against him in the presidential race. The United Nations says some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked.

The victor faces real challenges as Turkey has been in a state of emergency since a failed coup attempt in 2016 and the economy is in crisis.

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"The opposition will not be a nuisance anymore with the new presidential system", said another Erdogan supporter, retired sailor Engin Ozmen, 60.

Selahattin Demirtaş, the candidate of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was forced to run his campaign from prison, where he is being held in pre-trial detention on terrorism-related charges.

The HDP was left out of the alliance and needs to pass a 10 percent threshold to win seats in parliament.

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This weekend's election in Turkey may be a lose-lose scenario for investors. "Backing the HDP means supporting democracy".

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