Tayyip Erdogan is set to secure his place in history as Turkey's first popularly-elected president, but Joel Flynn asks how his tightening grip on power has polarised the nation, worried Western allies and raised fears of creeping authoritarianism.
It's one of the few countries that straddles two continents. Turkey sits at the edges of Europe and Asia, looking to the West and the East. In a decade as prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan has pushed to reshape the country, and broke the dominance of the secular elite. Now he looks set to secure his place in history, as he bids to become Turkey's first popularly-elected president. SOUNDBITE: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan saying (Turkish): "I am determined to continue the contruction of a new Turkey as its president. Brothers and sisters, go to the polls. If you give me the opportunity, if you elect me President, I will carry this holy journey forward." Until now, Turkish presidents have been chosen by parliament, but under a new law, voters will elect Erdogan or two other candidates to a five year term. If Erdogan wins, under the constitution he'd have to break with the AK party he founded and oversee selection of a new party leader. He is expected to gain the majority needed to win the first round - which would please his core supporters, religious conservatives. But he's a divisive figure. His opponents call him a modern-day sultan - with roots in Islamist politics and an intolerance of dissent. Serkan Demirtas is from Hurriyet Daily News. SOUNDBITE: Hurriyet Daily News Ankara Representative, Serkan Demirtas, saying (English): "He doesn't seem that he's going to embrace 100 percent of the Turkish society if elected, because he is still using the same politics he is doing as prime minister and he is giving the signal that he will continue his political manner, even if elected as president." Erodgan has overseen unprecedented growth and stability and Turkish markets would welcome the continuity of a first round win. But investors are concerned about his unorthodox views on the economy. Chris Beauchamp is from IG. SOUNDBITE: IG Market Analyst, Chris Beauchamp, saying (English): "I think investors in one way will be reassured by the fact that you've obviously got the stability of the government and no change there, no risk of disruption, but they are worried about the way Turkey is moving. The news reports coming through are enough to make any investor start to concern himself with the outlook and I think that's what will start to keep investors away. Emotions are running high in the country - this a recent parliament brawl. An Erdogan victory would mark an incredible recovery from one of his most difficult years in office. He faced a corruption scandal, and there was a heavy-handed police crackdown on anti-government demonstrations, which drew Western criticism. There are now concerns his election could see Turkey more isolated internationally.