UPDATE: Vote counting begins in Turkey's presidential poll

More than 53 million Turks were eligible to vote in Turkey's first election of a president by popular vote

More than 53 million Turks were eligible to vote in Turkey's first election of a president by popular vote

Turkey's Presidential Election 2014: National Distribution (As of 16:37 GMT)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan 53.05%

Selahattin Demirtas 9.12%

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu 37.83%

BALLOT BOXES OPENED 98.22%

ANKARA - Vote counting is underway in Turkey following the country's first election of a president by popular vote.

Electoral committees began counting the votes Sunday evening after the polls, which had opened at 8 a.m. (05.00 GMT), closed at 5 p.m. (14.00 GMT).

A total of 161,033 ballot boxes were opened throughout Turkey on Sunday morning for the election, which is widely seen as a referendum on the leadership of the most prominent candidate, incumbent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

More than 53 million Turks were eligible to vote. Turkish presidents have previously been elected by the country's parliament.

The poll followed a constitutional change approved in a 2010 referendum, in which the powers of the presidential office were enhanced and the election of the president by popular vote was instituted. 

The campaign has centered largely on the record of 60-year-old Erdogan -- Turkey's leading political figure for more than a decade.

The former head of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, 70, was the joint presidential candidate for Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party and the Nationalist Movement Party.

Turkey's opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party nominated its co-chairman, Selahattin Demirtas, 41, as its candidate.

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