A high turnout has been observed so far among Turkish citizens living abroad, as evidenced outside the Paris consulate by the long queue of voters, who were casting their ballots on Sunday for Turkey’s 14 May elections, although despite a strong start on the first day of polling, the turnout in the United Kingdom has remained below expectations, the ANF reported on Sunday.
Voting abroad began on 27 April and will continue until 9 May, with nearly 3.5 million eligible expatriate Turkish citizens able to vote around the world.
On Saturday observers reported that some supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) attempted to manipulate the elections by trying to vote twice at the consulates in Germany’s Frankfurt and Cologne.
Voting for the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey began in Switzerland on Saturday morning. Apart from minor incidents, the day passed quietly, with Kurdish European Association (KCDK-E) co-chair Yüksel Koç visiting all three polling stations in Switzerland, reported the ANF on Sunday.
The KCDK-E recently emphasised the critical role of voter mobilisation abroad in their call for elections, citing previous elections where high turnout among Kurdish voters resulted in success for pro-Kurdish parties like the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In contrast, areas with lower voter turnout had significantly lower vote shares for pro-Kurdish parties.
Earlier this week, two prominent politicians from Germany’s Greens, Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir and EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee chair MEP Sergey Lagodinsky, voiced concerns over Turkey’s elections. Lagodinsky pointed to Tuesday’s police raids against pro-Kurdish activists, journalists and lawyers, which resulted in nearly 200 people being detained and dozens arrested in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed), in politically motivated election engineering attempts.
Divisive rhetoric by members of Turkey’s ruling AKP has caused concern for Germany’s federal government. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann urged local governments to use their resources to intervene in any inflammatory incidents in the country, which has more than six million immigrants with origins in Turkey.
Overseas votes could prove decisive with the elections expected to be closely contested, as they could contribute up to half a percentage point to the presidential poll and potentially sway the results.