More than 54 million Turkish citizens headed to cast their votes at ballot stations on Sunday in Turkey’s 26th general election which is being held five months after the June 7 general election as no political party was able to gain enough votes for a majority government and to reach an agreement on a coalition government.
The vote will produce 550 deputies representing 81 provinces that divided into 85 voting districts.
According to Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK), out of 27 eligible parties to participate in the election, only 18 submitted their candidate lists. There are 16 parties racing in the November 1 election since one of the 18 parties withdrew and another one was left out of election.
The polling stations in Turkey’s eastern provinces open at 7.00 am local time and will close at 4.00 pm, while polls in other districts of the country remain open between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm.
Voting for Turkish citizens living abroad started on October 8 and ended on October 25, as nearly 2.9 million Turks abroad voted at 113 polling stations at embassies, airports and border crossings in 54 different foreign countries.
According to official reports, the participation rate of Turkish citizens living abroad in the election reached 43.7 percent, with an increase of 233,000 more votes compared to the previous election.
It is expected that the nationwide voter turnout would increase this time since the previous election which saw 83.92 percent of the electoral vote was not able to select a government.
Political instability after June 7
In the June 7 elections, the Justice and Development party (AK Party) gained 258 seats at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) with 40.87 percent of the votes while Republican People’s Party (CHP) came in second with 132 deputies getting 24.95 percent, according to YSK.
Meanwhile, both the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) received 80 seats in the parliament.
On July 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked AK Party leader Ahmet Davutoglu to form Turkey’s 25th government by a 45-day long deadline.
Since AK Party’s number of seats was not enough to produce a single-party government, Davutoglu held coalition talks with CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli.
Erdogan announced on August 27, Turkey’s snap election as the coalition talks failed and an interim government was formed by Davutoglu on August 28.
Under the Turkish election system a party must receive a nationwide 10 percent threshold to gain a seat in the assembly and needs 276 seats in order to form a majority government.
Politicians cast their votes
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasised on stability in the country saying "It is obvious in today's election how beneficial stability is for our nation and today our citizens will make their choice based on this," after casting his vote in Istanbul.
“As a nation we all need to respect the national will that will emerge. Turkey has come a long way on the path to democracy and I believe we will show how far we have come once again today with this election,” he added.
The AK Party leader Ahmet Davutoglu made a statement after voting, saying, “I hope the election results will be good for our country.”
"It is the duty of all of us to claim our democracy,” he added.
The CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu casted his vote in Ankara saying: “This election has a major importance for our democracy, our republic, our children and our future.”
The MHP leader Devlet Bahceli told reporters “I hope this election is a turning point for the future of our nation,” after leaving the polling station.
Speaking after casting his vote, the HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said “We are facing an important election today. It is peace that we all desire the most.”
Turkey’s 11th President Abdullah Gul was also among the ones giving statements after casting their vote. He said “What the country needs is peace and stability.”