Erdoğan plans European tour as part of presidential campaign

Erdoğan plans European tour as part of presidential campaign

Ümit Çetin ANKARA / Hürriyet
Erdoğan plans European tour as part of presidential campaign

There are around 2.6 million voters living abroad, which means around 5 percent of the total electorate, that can play a decisive role during the presidential elections. AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning a tour of European countries throughout May in an attempt to woo the nearly 2.6 million Turks living abroad who will cast votes for the first time in the August presidential elections.

Erdoğan will particularly focus on Germany, which has around 1.5 million potential Turkish voters. According to figures provided by the Supreme Election Board (YSK), there are around 2.6 million voters living abroad, around 5 percent of the total electorate. To attract these votes, Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) are planning a tour of countries such as Germany, France, Netherlands and Belgium, where Turks live in large numbers.

Details of the exact stops on the tour are still being finalized, though Brussels is certainly on the agenda, where the AKP will hold the official opening of its new office in the city.

The Turkish and German authorities are still working on the details about how Turks will be able to cast their votes in security, with gymnasiums and other public buildings thought to be the best places to serve as polling stations in Germany.

In the past, Turks living abroad could vote in polling stations at border gates. But on average only 7 percent of the 2.6 million potential overseas voters voted in previous elections. With the recent change in the Election Law, a significantly higher number is expected from now on.  

Erdoğan: Consultations to continue

Although plans for the pre-election campaign are being drafted at the AKP, Erdoğan announced on April 18 that they had still yet to make a decision about the party’s presidential candidate.

“We are going to come together with 1,100 of our party delegates next week. We will listen to the relevant parties and of course we will also talk to our president. We will make the best decision out of these consultations,” he said in an address to his party’s provincial organizations at a meeting in Ankara.

“We are undertaking a historic responsibility by electing the president through the votes of the people for the first time. We can leave the legacy for the future if we can manage to conclude this process with no difficulty,” he said, adding that the target was to turn these elections into a “feast of democracy.”  

New Turkey, new opposition

In the same address, Erdoğan again took the opportunity to slam the opposition parties and called on their voters to question their parties’ leadership.

He claimed that the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) cooperated with “traitors” before local elections and said their alliance with the “parallel structure” was hurting the country’s interests. “With this mentality and understanding, this opposition has no chance of contributing to Turkey’s future. The change in the opposition has become an inevitable need for Turkey, for the opposition and for their voters,” he said.

“I am of the belief that the new Turkey will also bring about a new opposition. I believe that an opposition with a vision, plan and project aiming at growing Turkey will also be shaped throughout this process,” Erdoğan added.