Turks vote in their 1st direct presidential election; Prime Minister Erdogan front-runner

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Turks have begun voting in their first direct presidential election — a watershed event in Turkey's 91-year history, where the president has been elected by Parliament until now.

Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan is the strong front-runner in Sunday's race to replace the incumbent, Abdullah Gul.

Erdogan is running against two other candidates Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, an academic and former chief of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; and the young Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.

A candidate needs an absolute majority for victory on Sunday. If none wins enough ballots, a runoff will be held on Aug. 24, when the candidate with the most votes wins.

Some 53 million people are eligible to cast votes in more than 160,000 polling stations across the country.