Turkish PM votes in general elections in Istanbul

08:23, June 13, 2011      

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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan casts his vote at a polling station, in Istanbul, Turkey,on 12 June 2011. Voting for 550 parliamentary members in Turkey started Sunday morning as the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) looks to a third consecutive win in general elections. More than 50 million Turks are estimated to cast their ballots during the day to elect a new parliament and voting results are expected to come out late Sunday night. (Xinhua/Ma yan)

by Chen Ming

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined million of voters in the general elections here on Sunday, saying that it is the people who decide the ruler of the country in the following four years.

The 57-year-old prime minister made the statement at the Yuskudar voting station, Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey. He voted along with his wife and daughter.

"The whole election process is going well and the atmosphere is healthy. Now it is the time for the public to speak. They will make a decision," he said, adding "I believe that our people will enjoy higher freedom."

Turkish President Abdullah Gul cast his ballot with his wife in Turkish capital of Ankara.

Turks went to polls to elect their 550 lawmakers for a Muslim country with a population of 77 million on Sunday.

The voting started at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) in Turkey's eastern provinces and at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) in the west. All ballot boxes will be closed at 5 p.m. (1500 GMT).

Some 51.9 million people are expected to cast their votes in 199,207 ballot boxes in 85 constituencies. The elections will be a landmark for the shaping of a new Turkey with most political parties vowing to rewrite the constitution.

Aykut Arslan, a 20-year-old marketing personnel, told Xinhua "I will vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Do you know that there were not many roads to villages in the past, and now the government has built many new highways and roads. The issue of budget is also not bad. I hope the living environment will be more pleasant in the future and the price of alcohol shall be cut down."

Cengiz Karayel, a 30-year-old hotel manager, said "I am going to vote the party which makes me feel pleasant. I will vote for CHP (Republican People's Party) and I think that they will supply better public services."

Fifteen political parties, including the ruling AKP and the major opposition CHP, with 7,492 candidates and 203 independent candidates are running for the parliament seats after a two-month massive campaign in the country.

Two-month election campaign was a scene to many new things. AKP Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited 68 provinces, and 1.2 million people attended the AKP election rallies.

CHP had 300 rallies for the first time with new party chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli visited 57 provinces.

Opinion polls and local analysts predict a high chance for the ruling AKP, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to beat rival parties and win its third consecutive term.

Local analysts said the AKP will win 46.5 percent of the votes, while the main opposition CHP may get 26.8 percent, the second biggest opposition party MHP, 10.8 percent, and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), 6.7 percent. In this case, the AKP will be the ruling party without any coalition.

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