“The Power of Turkish European Voters in Shaping May’s Presidential Election”

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Turkish citizens are preparing to vote in the country’s presidential elections on 14 May, and the votes of Turkish expats could be vital in deciding the outcome. Opinion polls show the race between incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the main opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to be neck-and-neck.

However, the views of Turkish voters living overseas, particularly in Germany, where a large number of expats reside, could be decisive in determining the victor. Voters are required to give a simple majority of the vote to a candidate, meaning that their preferences are critical to securing a win in the first round and avoiding a run-off vote.

5.3% of the electorate is registered to vote abroad, with 3.42 million Turkish expats eligible to vote. In the 2018 elections, this number was 3.04 million or 5.1% of the electorate. Erdoğan won 52.6% of all votes in the first round of voting in the 2018 elections, giving him a total of 26.33 million votes, 1.3 million more than the necessary amount to win the presidency.

In 2018, 1.53 million out of the 3.04 million eligible voters living abroad cast their votes, with 87% of those registered abroad living in 19 EU Member States, the UK, Norway, or Switzerland. German residents made up 47% of expat voters, with Turkish voters in Europe supporting Erdoğan overwhelmingly. Erdoğan received 64% of the vote in Germany, 63% in France, 72% in the Netherlands, 74% in Belgium, and 71% in Austria, where the highest numbers of Turkish voters were recorded.

There is no polling data indicating the level of voter turnout that will occur or how Turkish expats will vote on 14 May. However, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party expects voters to support them and is seeking to increase voter turnout rates among expats.

As the example of Istanbul’s mayoral election in 2019 shows, the votes of expats can make a difference. In March 2019, Ekrem Imamoğlu, the candidate of the Republican People’s Party, won by a margin of just 13,000 votes, but the Turkish Supreme Election Council ordered a re-vote at the request of Erdoğan’s party, citing “organised unlawfulness” and “election fraud.” In June, Imamoğlu won with a lead of 806,000 votes, obtaining 54% of the total votes.

The views of Turkish expats in Germany, where the highest numbers of expat voters are located, are essential in determining the outcome of the Turkish presidential elections. The country requires a simple majority of votes for a candidate to win the presidency, and voters abroad may be critical in giving either candidate over 50% of the vote in the first round and avoiding a second-round vote.

In the 2018 elections, Erdoğan received significant support from Turkish voters living abroad, particularly in Germany, while his main opponent, Muharrem Ince, received less support from Turkish expats. The Istanbul mayoral election in 2019 illustrates the importance of expat voters, as Ekrem Imamoğlu was able to increase his lead and secure a win in the re-vote. However, there is no polling data to predict the level of turnout or how Turkish expats will vote on May 14.

SOURCE: Ref- http://Servet Yanatma, euronews.com

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