Europe

Turkey election: Candidates hold final campaign rallies

  • 9 August 2014
  • From the section Europe

Campaigning in Turkey's first direct presidential election has drawn to a close ahead of Sunday's vote.

Candidate and current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held his final rally in the central Anatolian city of Konya.

The post of president, previously chosen by parliament and largely ceremonial, is being put to a popular vote for the first time.

Mr Erdogan has said he wants to enhance presidential powers.

His rally in Konya marked the culmination of almost 30 mass election meetings he has held up and down the country since early July.

"God willing a new Turkey will be established tomorrow. A strong Turkey will be born out of its ashes once more," he told cheering supporters.

Konya is regarded as the bastion of Mr Erdogan's Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Mr Erdogan's two rivals are Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu - the joint candidate of the two main opposition parties - and Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas, a leader of the left-wing People's Democratic Party.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been prime minister of Turkey since 2003 but is barred from seeking a new term
Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas addressed crowds in Izmir on Saturday

Mr Demirtas held his final rally in the city of Izmir.

"We cannot build our union by accusing each other. Let's show our colours at the ballot box tomorrow with our oppressed identities and faiths," he said.

On Friday, Mr Ihsanoglu visited the town of Soma, which in May was the scene of Turkey's worst ever mining disaster.

Mr Erdogan's handling of the tragedy, in which 301 miners were killed, was widely criticised and he has steered clear of the area during his campaign.

Candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was given a painting depicting miners in the town of Soma

Correspondents say the election has become a referendum on Mr Erdogan, an Islamist-rooted politician whose support base lies in Turkey's conservative, pious heartland.

The winner must get more than 50% of the vote.

If no candidate reaches this mark in the first round, a run-off will be held on 24 August.

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