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Voting officially ends in Turkish presidential, parliamentary elections

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By Claire Heffron  with Reuters
Voting officially ends in Turkish presidential, parliamentary elections

Voting has officially ended  in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections, a vote that poses the biggest electoral challenge to Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.

Polls across the country of 81 million people officially closed at 5 pm (1400 GMT). There are no exit polls in Turkey and initial results are expected during the early evening.

Erdogan’s challengers include Muharrem Ince from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), jailed former pro-Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas and former interior minister Meral Aksener from the fledgling Iyi (Good) Party.

Opinion polls place Erdogan around 20 percentage points ahead of his nearest challenger, Ince.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes on June 24, a run-off will be held on July 8 between the two best-performing candidates.

Erdogan’s ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party will contest the parliamentary election in an alliance with the nationalist MHP party, while the secularist CHP has formed a rival tie-up with the Iyi Party and the small Saadet Party.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) will run without a partner.

Parties will receive votes independent of their alliances, but those included in an alliance will be able to bypass a 10 percent threshold normally needed to enter parliament.

If the pro-Kurdish party exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to achieve a majority.