Turkey to go to polls Sunday to elect new government
12. June 2011. | 08:39
Source: Hürriyet Daily News
Political parties made their final push to win voters ahead of the June 12 general elections, in which 550 parliamentary seats – and a planned rewriting of the country’s Constitution – are at stake.
President Abdullah Gül issued a call Friday for everyone to go to the polls, saying that voting is the “duty” of Turkish citizens. “No one can pressure you, or keep you from voting,” he said.
In this year’s election, 50,189,930 voters will cast their ballots at 199,207 polling points. The 2,568,937 Turkish citizens living abroad can vote at ballot boxes that have been available at border crossing points since May 10.
Fifteen political parties are represented by 7,492 candidates in the race, and 203 unaffiliated candidates are running independently. The elections will result in 85 new deputies from Istanbul, 31 from Ankara, and 16 from İzmir.
Although voter information cards were sent out April 24, citizens only need to bring an ID card, passport, driver’s license or marriage certificate to cast their vote.
The provinces of Adıyaman, Ağrı, Ardahan, Artvin, Batman, Bayburt, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Erzincan, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Hakkari, Iğdır, Kahramanmaraş, Kars, Kilis, Malatya, Mardin, Muş, Ordu, Rize, Şanlıurfa, Şırnak, Siirt, Sivas, Trabzon, Tunceli and Van will vote from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other provinces will vote from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Political parties must stop campaigning at 6 p.m. on Saturday. However, they are allowed to resume campaigning in public spaces for two hours after sunset Sunday.
The Supreme Election Board, or YSK, has prohibited any publications or broadcasts about the elections from being released after 6 p.m. Saturday.
No media outlets will be able to cover the elections or results, or give estimates or comments related to the elections, until 6 p.m. Sunday. Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., the media can only publish news received directly from the YSK. After 9 p.m., the YSK said, news stories can be published without restrictions.
The YSK has also banned the consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages on election day from 6 a.m. Sunday morning until 12 a.m. Monday morning. Additionally, weapons, explosives, knives and nuclear, radioactive, chemical and biological substances can only be carried by police officers and security personnel.
For the first time in Turkish history, parliamentary candidates can be as young as 25 years old, following the ratification of a 2006 amendment to Article 76 of the Constitution.
This year also marks some changes in the tools used in the voting process. The traditional dark wooden ballot boxes have been replaced by new ones made out of hard plastic that is transparent, unbreakable and resistant to heat, according to the YSK. The polling booths will now be covered in fabric for privacy during the voting process, and the size of the voting envelopes has changed.
The YSK used a population recording system to determine the number of deputies to be chosen in this election. The number of deputies to be elected from Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, as well as Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Şanlıurfa, Sakarya, Sirnak, Tekirdağ and Van, has increased. Istanbul will send 15 more deputies this year.
The number of deputies to be elected from Afyonkarahisar, Ağrı, Aksaray, Aydın, Bayburt, Bitlis, Çankırı, Çorum, Edirne, Erzincan, Erzurum, Giresun, Isparta, Karabük, Karaman, Kastamonu, Kırıkkale, Kırşehir, Konya, Kütahya, Malatya, Mersin, Ordu, Sinop, Sivas, Tokat, Trabzon and Yozgat has decreased.