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Countdown begins for Turkey's local elections

The countdown for Turkey’s local polls -- set to be held on March 31 -- kicked off Tuesday, according to an electoral calendar released by the Supreme Election Council.

On Jan. 2, the council will disclose the political parties that will run in the polls.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is expected to take part the race in an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is expected to ally with the Good (IYI) Party.

The AK Party has already announced its 74 candidates, while the CHP has announced 36 candidates, the MHP 34 candidates, and the IYI Party 15 candidates.

The AK Party has nominated Mehmet Ozhaseki, its deputy chairman and a former environment and urbanization minister, for mayor of capital Ankara in the upcoming election.

Former Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has been nominated by the AK Party for mayor of Izmir, while Binali Yildirim, current parliament speaker and former prime minister, will run for mayor of Istanbul.

The CHP, meanwhile, has nominated Ekrem Imamoglu for mayor of Istanbul and Mansur Yavas for Ankara mayor.

Turkish local polls are held every five years to elect mayors of 30 metropolitan municipalities and 51 provincial municipalities.

Along with metropolitan, provincial and district mayors, voters will also elect municipal council members in cities and -- in rural areas -- muhtars and members of elder councils.

The last local elections were held in March 30, 2014, which saw the AK Party clinch more than 45.5 percent of the vote.

Electoral calendar 

Jan. 1: Election process officially begins.

Jan. 2: Names of political parties that may run in the polls will be announced.

Jan. 27: Order of political parties’ names on ballot papers will be determined by lots drawn by the Supreme Election Council.

Feb. 22: Temporary lists of candidates for provincial and district mayors will be announced. Lists will be subject to appeal until March 3.

Feb. 28: Voter notification cards will begin being distributed (until March 24).

March 21: Campaigning period officially begins.

March 30: Campaigning period ends.

March 31: Election Day

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