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Turkey was awash in campaign promises on Saturday as politicians pressed to get voters' attention in the last remaining hours before a ban begins ahead of Sunday's critical presidential and parliamentary elections.

The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president will be the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in a April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

The vote will be closely watched by the European Union - which Erdogan says he still wants Turkey to join despite the accession process grinding to a halt - and the United States which has seen no improvement in ties with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally under Donald Trump. Almost 60 million Turks are eligible to vote, out of a total population of 81 million.

Ince, a former teacher and the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), has proved highly effective on the campaign trail, drawing huge crowds, especially in the big cities. He warned supporters that a "fear regime" would continue if Erdogan is re-elected, predicting that financial markets would be rattled and the national lira currency would decline further.

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She also thanked the medical staff and social workers for their "hard work", "compassion" and "kindness". House Republicans have made a decision to postpone a vote on one of two immigration bills until Friday.

Erdogan, whose mastery of political rhetoric is acknowledged even by critics, has won a dozen elections but is now fighting against the backdrop of increasing economic woes.

Polls show Erdogan falling short of a first-round victory in the presidential race but he would be expected to win a run-off on July 8, while his AK Party could lose its parliamentary majority, possibly heralding increased tensions between president and parliament. "If Ince wins, the courts will be independent", said Ince, adding he would lift Turkey's state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected.

There are six candidates vying for the presidency. The United Nations says some 160,000 people have been detained and almost as many more, including teachers, judges and soldiers, sacked. After having consolidated power by crushing the organizers of a military coup, firing thousands of government workers, and controlling much of the media, Erdogan knows he holds sole responsibility for the state of his country today.

Other presidential candidates include Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), who is now in jail on terrorism-related charges that he denies.


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