Turkey: parliamentary elections opens for 50 millions voters

Turkey - MAP - Polls have opened in Turkey where more than 50 million Turks are eligible to cast their ballots to elect a new 550-seat parliament.

Voting started at 7am (0400 GMT) on Sunday in eastern Turkey and an hour later in the west.

All polling stations are expected to close at 1400 GMT and preliminary results are expected after 1800 GMT.

Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president, on Friday urged citizens to turn out in force. "No one can pressure you, or keep you from voting," Gul said, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.

Voters were queuing outside polling stations in Ankara, the Turkish capital, as voting began, the AFP news agency reported.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) is seeking a third term, was among early voters in Istanbul, Turkey's main city, where he is standing as a deputy.

"We have spoken, and now it is time for the people to speak," Erdogan said. "For us, this will be the most honourable decision and one that we will have to respect. As far as I know, the election process is continuing through the country without any problems."

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also voted on Sunday morning in Ankara.
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