Turkey polls for the presidential and parliamentary elections closed at 5:00 p.m. local time and the election authorities have begun the counting process amid a media gag order on results that would last until 9:00 p.m. local time.
Approximately 56.39 million Turkish citizens were eligible to cast their ballots in these elections. Some 53.34 million are in Turkey while another 3.05 million will participate in the elections from abroad.
The crucial elections will choose the direction of the country, and be the first time presidential and parliamentary elections are held at the same time. This is in line with constitutional reforms made last year, transforming the previous parliamentary system to an executive presidential one.
The elected president will be significantly more powerful: able to appoint vice presidents, ministers and high-level officials and judges. The power of cabinet and parliament, which have held most of the executive and legislative authority for decades, will decrease.
Presidential candidates are Muharrem Ince (Republican People's Party); Meral Aksener (Good Party); Selahattin Demirtas (Peoples' Democratic Party), and current President Tayyip Erdogan (Justice and Development Party). If no candidate receives more than '50 percent plus one' of the votes, a second round will be held on July 8.
Ince is the main challenger to incumbent Erdogan, who has led Turkey for the past 16 years. A former schoolteacher, Ince has managed to attract support from beyond the Republican People's Party's traditional base.
The Justice and Development Party joined forces with right-wing Nationalist Movement Party to create the 'People's Alliance' bloc.
An opposition alliance formed by the right-wing Good Party, conservative Felicity Party and center-right Democrat Party is challenging the People's Alliance with the Nation Alliance. Alliances were previously banned under the old constitutional system.
Overshadowing the elections is the coup attempt of 2016, which resulted in a crackdown on military and state officials who were believed to have orchestrated the plot.
An economic slowdown since the coup and increased pressure from Western governments has pushed Erdogan increasingly toward alternative alliances, such as Russia and China.
Ince has managed to take advantage of the economic downturn and fears over what critics say is Erdogan's consolidation of power, to build a strong electoral challenge.
The vote is expected to be close, however, and voting will continue to a second round if no clear winner emerges.