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Polling stations open across Turkey in crucial legislative election

Polling stations have opened in Turkey's legislative elections. The vote is seen as a crucial test for incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's plan to push through a new constitution giving him greater powers.

Voting has begun in Turkey's legislative election despite two days of violence, which left two people dead and dozens injured after an attack on a pro-Kurdish party rally on Friday.

Opinion polls predict current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) will win again. However, it is thought numbers will be sharply down on what it received in 2011.

Should Erdogan's AKP secure a two-thirds majority, he would have enough support to enforce a new constitution which would see Turkey change from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

Opposition groups fear this could mark the beginning of one-man rule.

However, should the opposition HDP, which is expected to place fourth, gain 10 percent of the vote, it could foil Erdogan's plans to make the constitutional changes.

The second-ranked secular Republican People's Party (CHP) and third placed Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) could force Erdogan's hand to form a coalition - the first since he came to power in 2002.

More than 53.7 million Turkish citizens are eligible to vote in Sunday's parliamentary election.

More than 174,000 polling stations opened at 0500 UTC and will close at 1400 UTC.

jlw/bw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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