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Turkey starts local elections amid tight security measures

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-30 21:11

Turkey starts local elections amid tight security measures

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan casts his ballot at a polling station during the municipal elections in Istanbul March 30, 2014.[Photo/Agencies]

ANKARA  -- Over 52 million Turkish people are going to the polls for the local elections on Sunday amid the security measures against possible incidents, private NTV news channel reported.

The Higher Election Board (YSK) has announced that a total of 52,695,831 people are eligible for voting at a total of 177,044 polling stations in 81 provinces throughout Turkey.

Voting started at 7 a.m. local time ( GMT 0500) in eastern provinces of Turkey and will end at 4 p.m. (GMT 1400), and voting is between 8 a.m. (GMT 0600) and 5 p.m. (GMT 1500) in western Turkey.

Twenty-six parties including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will compete in the local elections, according to the YSK.

The voters will cast their ballots for the mayors, administrators of district and provincial municipalities, as well as provincial city council members.

In the two main provinces of Ankara and Istanbul, the race will be mainly between incumbent AKP mayors and challengers from the main opposition Republican Peoples' Party (CHP).

The AKP, still popular despite a shake-up, is expected to embrace the local polls as the first party, local daily Sabah reported.

In the 2009 local elections, the AKP received 39.1 percent of votes, and 49.9 percent in national elections in 2011.

For the CHP side, a total of 200,000 its staff and some 300,000 volunteers will be involved with the observation of the ballot boxes in order to ultimately compare its own results with the official results, according to the report.

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