Six killed, about 100 injured in Turkey election clashes

March 29th, 2009 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Ankara, March 29 (DPA) Six people were killed and about 100 injured as a number of clashes broke out in Turkey during Sunday’s local elections, the CNN-Turk news channel reported.
Fighting was reported at a number of polling booths in eastern and southeastern Turkey with two deaths reported in Diyarbakir and one each in Sanliurfa, Kayseri, Van and Kars.

Polls closed Sunday afternoon in local elections to elect mayors for more than 3,000 municipalities across the country. All of the violence reported Sunday was related to voting for village headmen, contests which are not related to political parties.

In the local elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to sweep most municipalities.

Whilst polls vary, the AKP is once again set to win a plurality of votes in the polls to elect mayors and municipal assembly across Turkey’s 81 provinces.

A poll released this week by the A&G research company put the national vote of the AKP at 39.1 percent, well ahead of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 26.8 percent.

A poll conducted by Konda research company found a similar gap between the two parties but put the AKP vote on 48.9 percent, compared to the CHP’s 33.1 percent. The Konda poll put the strength of Turkey’s third main party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) at 10.5 percent.

Under Turkey’s highly centralised political system the elections are seen as a test of national leaders. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been at the forefront of the AKP’s election campaign. In the last six weeks of campaigning Erdogan has almost on a daily basis addressed rallies right across the country.

Other party leaders have also turned the election into a test of national strength, with news reports giving almost all coverage to the national leaders of parties rather than those actually running.

First results from the election are expected Sunday night.

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