Turks To Vote In First Direct Presidential Election Sunday

Turks were voting in their first direct presidential election Sunday, a watershed event in the 91-year history of a country where the president was previously elected by Parliament.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkey’s politics for the past decade, is the strong front-runner to replace the incumbent, Abdullah Gul, for a five-year term.

Erdogan, who is serving his third term as the Turks prime minister, has been a polarizing figure in Turkey. He is running for president since party rules stop him from serving another term as prime minister.

Erdogan is running against two other candidates, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Selahattin Demirtas, with Ihsanoglu being his man challenger as a former chief of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Some 53 million people are eligible to vote; a candidate needs an absolute majority for victory. If none wins enough ballots, a runoff between the top two will be held on Aug. 24.

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