Turkey’s March 31 local polls: What you need to know

With daily campaign rallies and politicians' speeches, Turkey is gearing up for local elections to be held across the country on March 31.

According to election regulations, local polls in Turkey are held every five years.

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming elections:

1. How many political parties are taking part?

A total of 12 political parties will participate in the local elections.

The major parties are the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Good (IYI) Party, and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

Also taking part are the Independent Turkey Party (BTP), Grand Unity Party (BBP), Democrat Party (DP), Democratic Left Party (DSP), Saadet (Felicity) Party, Communal Democracy Party (TDP), and Patriotic (Vatan) Party.

2. When the candidate lists will be finalized?

According to the official election schedule, the political parties must submit their candidate lists to the election councils by Feb. 19 at 5.00 p.m. local time.

After evaluating the candidates, the election councils will release the final lists on March 3.

3. What about voter registrations and polling stations?

Apart from exceptions under the law, every voter will vote at the polling station where they are registered. Turkish voters can learn the name and location of their polling station using the e-government online system.

4. How do elections work in larger cities?

Voters living in Turkey's larger cities, called metropolitan municipalities, will vote to elect a mayor for the entire city, as well as district municipal mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials), and members of elder councils.

Turkey has 30 metropolitan municipalities, including the capital Ankara and Istanbul, the city where nearly one in five Turkish citizens live, as well as Adana, Antalya, Aydin, Balikesir, Bursa, Denizli, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Izmir, Kahramanmaras, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Manisa, Mardin, Mersin, Mugla, Ordu, Sakarya, Samsun, Sanliurfa, Tekirdag, Trabzon, and Van.

5. How do elections work in smaller cities?

Voters living in smaller cities will elect members of provincial general councils, mayors, city council members, and mukhtars and members of elder councils.

6. How do elections work in villages?

Voters living in villages will elect members of provincial general councils, mukhtars, and members of elder councils.

7. What color will the ballots be?

White ballots will be used for electing metropolitan municipality mayors.

Orange ballots are for electing members of provincial general councils.

Blue ballots are for electing municipal district mayors.

Yellow is for electing city council members.

8. How many envelopes will a voter's ballots be put into?

All of the different-colored ballot papers cast by each individual voter will be placed into a single envelope.

9. What are the voting hours?

Polls will be open from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. (0400-1300GMT) in 32 out of Turkey's 81 provinces: Adiyaman, Agri, Artvin, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Giresun, Gumushane, Hakkari, Kars, Malatya, Kahramanmaras, Mardin, Mus, Ordu, Rize, Siirt, Sivas, Trabzon, Tunceli, Sanliurfa, Van, Bayburt, Batman, Sirnak, Ardahan, Igdir. and Kilis.

In the remaining provinces, polling stations will be open from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. local time (0500-1400GMT).

10. When will the ballot counting start?

The counting of the ballots will start immediately after voting ends -- after 4.00 or 5.00 p.m. (1300 or 1400GMT), depending on the city, as above.

11. Which votes will be counted first?

In metropolitan municipalities, the counting process will start with ballots for metropolitan mayors, district municipality mayors, city councils, and mukhtars.

Source: Anadolu Agency