Turkish voters fail to show up at ballot boxes abroad

Turkish voters fail to show up at ballot boxes abroad

Turkish voters fail to show up at ballot boxes abroad

AA Photo

A total of 232,000 Turkish citizens voted at ballot boxes overseas in the first round of Turkey’s presidential elections, falling far behind the government’s expectations in the first year of the undertaking.

Another 152,000 people had voted as of Aug. 4 at customs gates to Turkey, where voting is still continuing unlike in foreign cities with relatively large Turkish populations, according to Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler.

“We have almost one more week,” Anadolu Agency quoted the deputy prime minister as saying on the sidelines of a meeting in Ankara yesterday. “I think that this number will go higher. My expectations for the sum of foreign country and customs gates votes stands at around 450,000 to 500,000.”

The total number of Turkish constituents eligible to vote abroad was 2,780,757, about 5 percent of the total electorate.

The Supreme Election Board (YSK) has implemented a strict system of appointment for the voting, which kept the turnout low, İşler said.

Some problems in overseas voting were spotted, he said, adding that he personally called the head of the board, demanding some flexibility, which did not change the board’s attitude.

Turkey first granted the right to vote to citizens abroad where they reside in 2012.

“Within the scope of this code, the Supreme Election Board holds the authorization and responsibility on the issue. The board has implemented a rather flexible expression in the code in a very strict way unfortunately,” he said.

Some 122,000 people voted at customs gates in the 2011 general elections, but this number will increase this time by around three-and-a-half times, representing around 17 to 18 percent of the eligible overseas electorate, said İşler.

Voting at the customs gates will continue until Aug. 10, the day of the elections in Turkey. A second round will be hold on Aug. 24 if none of the three candidates wins 50 percent plus one of the valid votes.

The ballot boxes abroad will be brought to Turkey in private jets before being opened in the country on election day.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş are competing to become Turkey’s next president.

İşler said in response to a question that it was “obvious that there would be no second round,” intimating that his boss, Erdoğan, would win outright on Aug. 10.