World Bulletin/News Desk
Voting in Turkey’s local elections has ended Sunday afternoon, giving way to a nervous and spirited wait for the release of results across the country.
Ballot boxes closed at 5 p.m. local time (3 p.m. GMT) in 49 provinces, one hour after voting concluded in 32 provinces located in the eastern half of Turkey.
Over 52 million eligible voters were summoned to the polling stations to cast their votes at nearly 200,000 ballot boxes across the country.
They voted to elect mayors of cities and districts, city council members, and non-partisan 'muhtars' for villages and neighborhoods.
For many Turkish citizens and the international community, the significance of these elections goes beyond local administrations, with the outcome expected to have wider repercussions on politics, both within the country and beyond.
The first ballot since anti-government protests in summer 2013 and anti-corruption probes in December 2013, its results may also be an indicator for the presidential election to come in August and general elections in 2015, analysts say.
The Turkish Prime Minister and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has cast his vote in the Uskudar district of Istanbul on Sunday.
Erdogan, after voting, said that as far as he knows participation in today's elections is going to be high and therefore “the nation will determine what the truth is”.
“I want to congratulate my nation, and hope that this election will be a step forward for the country’s democracy,” he added.
“Turkey is proud of you” and “Recep Tayyip Erdogan” were some of the slogans cheered by the crowd who came to greet him as he casts his vote.
Official results are expected to start being announced from around 21:00 (1900 GMT).
An Anadolu Agency correspondent reporting from the southeastern province of Diyarbakir said voters started turning up early to vote.
"I have been casting my vote for 50 years, it is my civic duty and I am happy to do it" said Musa Kochan, a villager in the province of Danyal Akdemir. While an Assyrian living in the Mardin province said they were “casting our votes in very nice atmosphere."
In the eastern province of Siirt, 130-year-old Mehmet Esen said "I am voting for peace and the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish people," as he went in to vote.
Elsewhere Cankiri Governor Vahdettin Ozcan who went to the polls with his partner in the central Anatolian Cankiri province said "the election [in the province] goes on with no problems and no incidents have occurred anywhere across the provinces so far."
In Kocaeli, a province near Istanbul, witnesses said the vote was proceeding in a peaceful manner and Ercan Topaca, the governor, said no security incidents had occurred that could negatively affect the results of elections so far, adding that over 2,000 security officers were endeavoring to keep the peace during Sunday's election.
Turkish security officials have taken the necessary precautions to make sure that the March 30 polls are undisrupted in accordance with the provincial governors' instructions.
Six people were killed on Sunday in clashes between groups backing rival candidates in Turkey's municipal elections.
Security officials said four people were killed in a gun fight between two families in the village of Yuvacik in the eastern province of Sanliurfa, which borders Syria. Such clashes have occurred at previous local elections.
In Hatay province, also bordering Syria, two people died in a gunbattle between relatives of two candidates in Golbasi village, the officials said. Candidates in the voting for these local officials are not party-affiliated.
Last Mod: 30 Mart 2014, 20:19