Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections

By Daily Sabah

ANKARA, Turkey - Polls have opened in Turkey's high-stakes presidential and parliamentary elections, with 56,322,632 registered voters and 180,065 ballot boxes across the country.

Voters began gathering at polling centres early on Sunday to cast their ballots in the elections that complete Turkey's transition to a new executive presidential system that was approved in a controversial referendum last year.

Voting started at 8.00 a.m. local time (0500GMT) and will continue through 5.00 p.m. local time (1400GMT).

Voters will be able to cast their ballots after they show their ID cards or any other official identification document.

It is forbidden to enter the voting booth with photo/video cameras and mobile phones.

Voters are casting two separate ballot papers in the same envelope -- one for the presidential and one for the parliamentary elections.

Parties in the running

Eight political parties are participating in the parliamentary elections that include the Justice and Development (AK) Party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the Free Cause (Huda-Par) Party, the newly formed Good (IYI) Party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Felicity (Saadet) Party and the Patriotic (Vatan) Party.

For the first time in Turkish history, political parties went to elections by forming alliances.

Turkey's ruling AK Party and the MHP formed an alliance (People's Alliance) while the CHP, the IYI Party, and the Felicity Party constituted another (Nation Alliance).

A bill, submitted by the ruling AK Party and the MHP in February, stated that a political party could back another during elections.

In general elections, a political party must receive 10% of the votes nationwide for any of its candidates to win a seat in parliament. Now, only the alliance needs to pass the 10%thresholdsd in order for the parties to claim seats in parliament.

Ballots are bearing the name of the alliance juxtaposed to that of the candidates whose parties have decided to proceed with forging an alliance.

Presidential candidates

Six candidates are running for president: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the alliance (People's Alliance) formed by Turkey's ruling AK Party and the MHP, Muharrem Ince for CHP, Selahattin Demirtaş for HDP, Meral Akşener for the Good (IYI) Party, Temel Karamollaoğlu for the Felicity (Saadet) Party, and Doğu Perinçek for the Patriotic (Vatan) Party.

Election day bans

News media organizations are not allowed to broadcast any political advertising, predictions or comments about the elections until 06.00 p.m. (1500GMT).

Between 06.00 p.m. (1500GMT) and 09.00 p.m. (1800GMT), media outlets will only be able to publish official announcements about the elections issued by Supreme Election Council.

Selling alcoholic beverages are banned from 06.00 a.m. (0300GMT) to 00.00 p.m. (2100GMT) while consumption of alcoholic beverages is also prohibited in public places.