(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to build on his momentum going into today's runoff presidential election, urging Turks to vote as the man aiming to defeat him called on electors to pull their country from“the dark pit” of his two-decade rule.
The opposition has seen this month's presidential and parliamentary elections as their best chance yet of unseating Erdogan, and unpicking far-reaching changes he has made to Turkiye, with his popularity hit by a cost-of living crisis.
Both candidates are targeting some 8mn who did not vote in the first round.
A first round of voting on May 14 showed Erdogan with a lead over the opposition's Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party and its allies secured a parliamentary majority in the initial vote.
Addressing supporters in Istanbul's Beykoz district during his final campaign rally, Erdogan urged a strong turnout.
“Are we running to the polls tomorrow? Will we cast our votes from the early hours in the morning? We will not miss anyone that voted in the first round,” he said, as the crowd chanted“yes” in excitement.
“We will encourage people who could not go (to the ballot box in the first round). Will we complete the work that we left unfinished on May 14, with an overwhelming majority, hopefully by making the gap even wider tomorrow?”
Kilicdaroglu, who is backed by a six-party opposition alliance, said everyone who loves Turkiye must vote.
“If you really want it, we'll all get out of this dark pit together,” he wrote in a Tweet.“I am calling to all our people regardless of their view or lifestyle. This is the last exit. Everyone who loves their country should go to the ballot box!”
Erdogan won 49.5% of the vote in the first round versus 44.9% for Kilicdaroglu.
Erdogan got a boost earlier this week when Sinan Ogan – a nationalist politician who came third with 5.2% – endorsed him.
Kilicdaroglu, who is chair of Turkiye's biggest opposition party, the CHP, meanwhile secured the endorsement of the anti-immigrant Victory Party for the runoff.
According to data by the high election board (YSK), turnout for the first round was over 87% including diaspora votes.
Polls open at 8am (0500 GMT) and close at 5pm (1400 GMT).
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