At least 3.5 million Turks on the move for vote
ISTANBULMillions of people flocked to their hometowns over the weekend to vote, as local election fever is gripping Turkey.
Over 3.5 million people rushed to inter-city buses to travel to their home cities or villages across the country just to be able to fulfill their main duty as a citizen in a democratic country: voting.
The biggest bustle was in Turkey’s most-populated and biggest migration-drawing city, Istanbul, and its Esenler bus terminal.
Around 1,200 buses depart from the terminal in an ordinary day, but the number was 2,000 per day on March 28 and 29, according to bus representatives.
“We could barely meet the demand with additional trips,” said Mehmet Erdoğan, head of Turkey Bus Driver Federation (TOFED).
He said the number of people traveling from Istanbul’s main bus terminal had been calculated to be around 500,000 per day on the two busy days ahead of the March 30 elections.
“The total number of traveling around Turkey for election is around 3.5 million,” he said, including the ones traveling by plane or private car.
“Around 1,500 buses have been rented for the election. People are returning to their hometowns to support their relatives, even if they are running for the muhtar [neighborhood or village head] post,” Erdoğan said.
More than 52.6 million voters will head to the ballot box to elect muhtars, district and provincial mayors as well as municipality assembly members in the nationwide election.
Voter turnout, which was 85.2 percent in 2009 local elections, is expected to be high this year as well, as a tense political atmosphere has turned the municipal election into a vote of confidence for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which has been hit by corruption allegations and scores of leaked audio recordings.