Turks start to vote in general elections

09:41, June 13, 2011      

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A voter casts her vote at a polling station in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 12, 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)

Parliamentary elections in Turkey started Sunday morning as the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) looks to a third consecutive win.

Polling stations opened in eastern Turkish provinces at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) and will end at 4 p.m.(1300 GMT). Voting in western provinces start and end one hour later.

More than 50 million Turks are estimated to cast their ballots during the day to elect a new parliament and voting results are expected late Sunday night.

Fifteen political parties with 7,492 candidates are contending 550 seats. There are also 203 independent candidates.

The AKP has been trying to win a two-thirds majority in parliament (at least 367 seats) so that the party can push through a new constitution intended by the party's leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Opinion polls prior to election day showed the AKP was heading toward a comfortable lead of 42 percent to 48 percent of the vote. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was expected to get 25 percent to 30 percent.

The second largest opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), would get 11 percent to 13 percent of the vote, just above the 10-percent threshold for parliamentary representation.

In the last general elections in 2007, the AKP garnered 46.5 percent and took 341 seats in parliament, followed by the CHP, which won 20.7 percent and 112 seats. The MHP got 14.3 percent and 71 seats.

Opinion polls and local analysts predict a third consecutive win by the ruling AKP.

Local analysts said the AKP will win 46.5 percent of the vote while the main opposition CHP may get 26.8 percent.

The MHP and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party are expected to have 10.8 percent and 6.7 percent respectively, they added.

However, they noted, the ruling party will not reach the 367-seat threshold.

The AKP, which has been in power since 2002, owns a largely conservative electorate and has a pro-business and pro-European Union (EU) platform.

In addition to its popularity among conservatives, the AKP has also secured support from political liberals due to the reforms aimed at Turkey's EU membership.

Source: Xinhua

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