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Turkish voters go to the polls in Germany

Turkish nationals are voting at polling stations in Germany in their country's presidential election. This is the first time that Turks living abroad have been able to vote outside the country.

Polling stations opened across Germany at 0600 UTC on Thursday where Turkish nationals can vote until Sunday in their country's presidential election.

It is the first time Turkish citizens have been able to participate in an election while living outside of their native country. There are around 1.4 million Turkish residents living in Germany who are eligible to vote.

The polls also mark the first time Turks will directly elect a president, with voting to take place in Turkey on August 10.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

, of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), is the favorite to win the election and extend his decade-long grip on power.

The AKP party has never lost an election, topping local polls in March with 43 percent of the vote, despite a year of controversies including the

anti-government Gezi Park protests


far-reaching corruption allegations.

Erdogan's critics have pointed out his increasingly authoritarian and polarizing style of rule, including his government's

banning of websites such as YouTube

and Twitter, which were later overturned in court.

The other candidates are the devout Muslim intellectual Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who was chosen by Turkey's two main opposition parties, and Selahattin Demirtas for the country's biggest pro-Kurdish party.

According to the DPA news agency, 51 luxury boxes had been rented out at Berlin's Olympic Stadium to accomodate voting by the 140,000 Turks in the region who are eligible to vote.

Polling stations are also located in Hannover, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Munich and Karlsruhe.

hc/pfd (dpa, ARD)

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