ISTANBUL – At least two people were killed and 50 others wounded in incidents that occurred on Sunday during local elections in Turkey, where the polls have closed, the Interior Ministry said.
In the total of 315 incidents documented by the ministry, 62 were reports of physical assaults, while the other cases were reports of insults, illegal possession of weapons or taking photographs of completed ballots.
Two members of an opposition party were shot dead at a polling place in Malatya, a city in eastern Turkey.
In addition to these two deaths, two other people were killed before the start of election day, while 50 others were wounded in clashes earlier in the day, half of them in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.
The majority of the brawls were caused by disagreements over voting for ward delegate, a local office held by people who are not affiliated with any political parties.
The press reported on sporadic complaints from citizens who noticed that others had voted on their behalf.
Officials have not yet provided any figures on the turnout, which in the past decade has always been higher than 80 percent in Turkey and, according to several observers, is expected to also be high in this round of local elections.
Ballots began being counted after the polls closed.
Although the mayoralties of the 81 provincial capitals and thousands of other municipalities were up for grabs in Sunday’s elections, all eyes will be on two cities – Ankara and Istanbul, where the opposition has expectations of taking power.
In these two major cities, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has governed Turkey since 2002, and the social-democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) are competing for votes amid projections in recent days that it would be a tight race without a clear favorite.
The AKP and Islamist parties that preceded it have governed Istanbul and Ankara since 1994, so a defeat in local elections would be a blow to the political movement led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The results are expected to be released before midnight on Sunday.