ISTANBUL, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Turkish prime minister and president hopeful Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined millions of people at a polling station in Istanbul to cast their votes for the country's first direct presidential election on Sunday.
In Turkey's most populated city of Istanbul, almost 10 million people started to vote from very early in the morning hours.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), joint nominee of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu also casted their votes in Istanbul.
The excitement and the rush in the garden of a small high school of Saffet Cebi in the Asian site district of Uskudar where Erdogan casted his vote was quite unusual on Sunday.
Around a hundred local and foreign journalists positioned in the garden of the school together with 10 live broadcast vehicles. It was not only the journalists who were making the big noise but also the security forces' preparations were spectacular.
Snipers were positioned on the minaret of the nearby mosque. Another group of snipers were patrolling the park two at a time. Moreover the special security forces and armored vehicles were also deployed nearby the school.
Erdogan came to the polling station three hours later than previously announced. His wife, her two daughters and his son have accompanied him. Erdogan after casting his vote made a short statement in front of the ballot box and said "These elections are important for carrying us to 2023 and 2071. We hope that the turnout will be high."
One of the main concerns among the public was the turnout as most of the voters are mostly in summer vacation.
However starting from the Saturday's morning the traffic on the highways that connect the Anatolia to Istanbul were full of the people trying to go back to vote.
Aylin Sayer who travelled from Ankara to Istanbul to cast her ballot told Xinhua that at some parts of the highway, few hours away to Istanbul, the speed has fallen as low as 10 km per hour. The vacationers had difficulties in finding tickets at the planes and buses to Istanbul.
The number of old people over the age 80 who took the streets to vote were quite high.
An old couple, Erden Aktor and her husband Refik were having rest in the garden of a ballot station in Besiktas as they spoke with Xinhua. "I voted for Erdogan," Erden Aktor said. "I like him the most," she added.
Her husband Refik Aktor also remarked that they are very content with the health services provided by Erdogan's government. "We are now over 80. The doctor comes to our house, the ambulance comes whenever we want and carry us to hospital," Aktor added.
However a middle age women Ayse Soner was not as happy as the old couple. She said "I hope the one that will take us towards an enlightened Turkey will win. In case of Erdogan presidency the darkness would be waiting us."
In Uskudar the number of Erdogan's supporter was high as well. Those who spoke to Xinhua expressed their hopes about Erdogan's victory.
A man called Arif Bayraktar carrying his baby in his arms said "We like Erdogan's policy, we don't have any complaint. That's why we voted for him."
Another person Mucahit Bilir said that he and his family have been working in France and came to Istanbul to cast their votes. He said that he voted for Erdogan because he is very well known figure in the west. "Everyone knows him and like him. We support his policies. That's why we voted for him," he said.