Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cast his ballot in violence-marred local elections.
The vote is seen as a major test of the popularity of the ruling AKP. Opinion polls suggest it will pick up around 40 percent of the vote. Some 48 million people are eligible to elect 93,000 representatives in the country’s 81 provinces. Turkey’s secularists have been defeated in the past three elections and People’s Republican Party leader Deniz Baykal will be happy if the AKP poll less that the 46 percent won in the 2007 general election. Meanwhile, clashes in the mainly Kurdish-majority east and southeast have left five dead and more than 90 injured in fighting in ten provinces. Critics argue Erdogan, who was close to being banned from politics over attempts to relax Turkey’s secular rules, has not acted on promises to speed up reforms in order to clinch EU membership for the country of 72 million.