Turks abroad show huge turnout in elections

Turks abroad show huge turnout in elections

Turks abroad show huge turnout in elections

Turkish expatriates have shown a high civic engagement in the May 14 elections, which has already started for citizens abroad, as they line up in long queues outside the consulates to cast their ballots.

More than 800,000 Turkish citizens living abroad have cast their ballots in the elections scheduled for May 14 at home over the last six days, while this figure was below 400,000 in the last elections in 2018.

Turkish citizens can cast their votes without needing to book an appointment until May 9 at designated election bureaus, and May 14 at border gates at 156 points across 73 countries, the Supreme Election Council (YSK) says.

More than 3.4 million Turkish citizens living abroad are eligible to vote for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14, around 277,000 of whom are first-time voters.

After the voting process abroad completes, three planes will be rented to bring the votes cast to Türkiye. The planes will host a commission for the transfer of ballot bags to Ankara, a diplomatic courier and personnel to be assigned by the YSK. Political party representatives will also be able to attend all stages as observers.

In the event that the presidential election goes to the second round, citizens will cast votes between May 20 and 24 at the designated offices.

The YSK has also placed 4,671 polling stations at 46 border gates. In the event of a possible runoff, the voting process at customs will continue until 5 p.m. on May 28.

Overseas votes could prove decisive as they could contribute to up to half a percentage point in the presidential polls and potentially sway the results.

Germany, housing the most significant Turkish diaspora, also has the highest number of voters, with more than 1.5 million people eligible to vote, the YSK revealed. Turks living in Germany are able to cast votes in 26 different representative offices.

Gülşah Biçen, a Turkish expatriate in Germany, said she waited in line for more than half an hour at the consulate in Cologne. “It was much more crowded than I expected,” she said.

Germany is followed by France and the Netherlands, where 397,086 and 286,753 voters live, respectively.

“On our third visit, they put us in front of the queue because we had children, that’s the only way we could cast our votes. The average waiting time in the queue was nearly three hours,” Meltem Bilir, who cast her vote in the Netherlands, Rotterdam.

Nida Dinçtürk, a Turkish journalist living in London, also said she had to wait around 45 minutes to vote.

The YSK says efforts are underway to put additional ballot boxes in the regions where there are large crowds and long queues.