Voting for the June 24 presidential and general elections began on Thursday for Turks living abroad, who are able to cast their ballots at polling stations in foreign missions and at customs gates.
Over 3 million Turkish expatriates are expected to vote in Turkey’s upcoming elections in 60 countries between June 7 and 24. The foreign vote represents nearly 5 percent of the total and could change the final result if it turns out to be a close race, according to the Anadolu news agency.
Voters will be able to cast their votes at 123 polling stations between June 7-19 and at 36 customs gates between June 7 and 24.
A total of 3,160 ballot boxes have been set up in 123 Turkish foreign missions for the elections.
Six candidates are running in the presidential race, while eight political parties are taking part in the parliamentary elections, which were rescheduled to a year and a half before the original date following parliament’s approval on April 20 of a joint proposal of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to hold snap elections.
According to election regulations, a minimum of 500 voters must be registered at a foreign representation for a polling station to be set up.
A total of 3,049,065 eligible Turkish nationals abroad are set to cast their votes in foreign countries, according to figures from Turkey’s Supreme Board of Elections (YSK).
Turkish nationals abroad were able to vote for the first time in the Aug. 10, 2014 presidential election, with the turnout at around 8 percent for the foreign vote.
Before 2014, Turkish citizens who lived abroad could vote only at customs gates.
Turkish expatriates were able to vote in parliamentary elections on June 7, 2015, early general elections on Nov. 1, 2015 and in the April 16, 2017 referendum.
The turnout rose from 32 percent to 40 percent and finally reached 48 percent in the April 16 referendum last year.
This year, Turkish nationals residing in Malta, Serbia and Moldova will also be able to vote in an election in their country of residence for the first time.
In both of the parliamentary elections in June and November 2015, the AKP took the lead in expatriate votes; the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) secured second place; and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) came in third.
Turkish voters will be able to use 13 polling stations in Germany, seven in the United States, six in France, four each in Russia, China, Canada and Greece, and three each in Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iran and Kazakhstan.
Italy, Spain, Iraq, Kosovo, Egypt, Romania, Ukraine, Belgium, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Georgia and Saudi Arabia will host two polling stations each.
Voting will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time on weekdays and weekends.
If the presidential election goes to the second run-off stage, then voters will again go to the polls again June 30 and July 4.