As Turks begin voting in more countries, general election turnout increases on weekend
A Turkish citizen casts his vote in the Turkish Embassy in Rome on May 30. AA photoTurkish citizens living in Italy, UK, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia have begun casting their votes to participate in Turkey's general election that officially starts on June 7, boosting turnout with more votes from abroad.
On the first day of polls in Italy, the voting began at 10 a.m., local time and ended at 7 p.m., May 29 at polling stations set up inside Turkey's Rome embassy and the Milan consulate.
"We are very happy to be able to cast our votes here," Hakan Sönmez, a Turkish citizen, told Anadolu Agency. "Our wish [in Turkey] is people's fraternity," Sönmez added.
Some 13,000 Turkish citizens are eligible to vote in Italy. On the first day of polling, 298 people casted their votes at the embassy, while 902 went to the polls at the consulate.
"The first day of the voting went well, without any problem. Our expectation is the electoral turnout to increase on Saturday and Sunday," Aylin Sekizkök, consul general at the Milan consulate, said.
The voting will continue until 7 p.m., local time May 31.
Voting in U.K.
Turkish citizens living in the U.K. have also begun casting their votes.
The voting started May 30 at 10 a.m. at polling stations set up inside the Olympia Conference Center in London and at Turkey's Edinburgh consulate. The two-day voting is scheduled to end at 7 p.m., local time May 31.
Around 85,000 Turks are eligible to vote in the U.K., out of which 81,643 live in London and 2,915 voters live in Edinburgh, according to Turkey's Supreme Election Board.
"We expect higher electoral turnout in this election, compared to the recent presidential elections," Emirhan Yorulmazlar, Turkish consul general in London, said.
Voting in Russia
Turkish citizens in Russia have also begun voting at Turkish missions in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Novorossiysk city. Over 11,000 Turks are eligible to vote across Russia, out of which around 8,000 live in the capital Moscow.
In Kyrgyzstan, around 1,800 Turks are expected to cast their votes at the polling station in Turkey's embassy in Bishkek during the two-day voting period. The voting, which began at 10 a.m. May 30, is due to end at 7 p.m. May 31.
Voting in Balkans
Turkish citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia have also begun voting.
About 2,000 Turkish citizens are eligible to vote in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the overall number in the entire Balkan states is about 24,000.
Voting has begun in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo and the Macedonian capital of Skopje, while Turkish citizens will vote in the Kosovar capital of Pristina and the Albanian capital of Tirana May 31.
Nuray Türkyılmaz drove for three hours to cast her vote at the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo.
"I am proud of my state and its numerous modernization in the past 10 years?I am grateful to Turkey for allowing me to cast my vote abroad?God willing, Turkey will continue its success," Türkyılmaz said.
Cihad Erginay, Turkey's ambassador to Sarajevo, called on all Turkish citizens to participate in the elections and said he expected a high turnout.
Turkey's Ambassador to Skopje Ömür Solendil said that there were 1,943 registered voters in Macedonia.
"I wish the elections to be auspicious for our country," Solendil said.
According to Turkey's Supreme Election Board, 112 polling stations have been set up for almost three million Turkish nationals living abroad.
Elections in Turkey have the second-highest voter turnout among developed democracies, according to a report released by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
More than 84 percent of the electorate went to the polls in the 2011 general election, according to the report comparing turnout rates in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member states.
The upcoming June elections will elect 550 members of the Turkish parliament from 20 political parties. This will be the country's 25th general election.
The initial turnout in the ballot boxes abroad was lower than expected, although it recorded a huge increase in countries including Germany compared to last year’s presidential election.
From May 8 to May 27, 685,158 Turkish citizens had cast their votes in embassies and consulates abroad. Private broadcaster CNN Türk reported on May 30 that the turnout increased with thousands of Turks living abroad flocked to voting centers as the weekend started.