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Civic-minded expat Turks must travel to Turkey to vote June 12
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 01 Mar 2011 Tue 05:01 am

This 2007 file photo shows Turks living abroad voting at a customs office during the general elections. Hürriyet photo

This 2007 file photo shows Turks living abroad voting at a customs office during the general elections. Hürriyet photo




















Turks abroad will not be able to vote in their countries of residence in the June 12 general elections, the Supreme Election Board, or YSK, announced Sunday. More than 2 million Turkish voters abroad will have to wait for another election to be able to cast their votes.

The main opposition party, however, accused the government of deliberately blocking those voters in the June 12 elections. If the government wanted to implement the law to allow all Turks abroad to vote, it would be possible to make the necessary arrangements for upcoming elections even in one month, an opposition party figure said.

“Religious communities have been carrying groups of Turkish voters to the customs gates to vote in every election. But the others, for instance Alevi voters, can’t vote since they are not organized to go to customs gates and vote. Most Turks who cannot vote in the elections are those with no connection to the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP],” İsa Gök, a deputy from the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, told Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review on Monday.

The YSK’s decision, published in the Official Gazette, is based on the lack of time for preparations for voting abroad or electronic voting. The council said there were still many uncertainties before finalizing the electoral rolls that for the sake of the elections it had postponed the implementation of related laws to future elections. “Voters abroad can cast their votes at customs gates,” the decision said.

If the government wanted Turks residing abroad to vote in upcoming elections, they would have a couple of ways to implement the law, Gök said. “Election judges could be sent to the embassies and consulates. Or citizens could vote before June 12 in the consulates and those polls could be opened in Turkey on the election night. A third way is electronic voting,” he said.

Currently, Turkish citizens living abroad must travel to a Turkish border 90 days before an election and cast their vote at the customs checkpoint there, rather than being able to vote at their embassies or consulates, as citizens of many other countries can do.

“Political Islamic groups organize their voters and bring them to the customs gates at Turkish borders. This is not fair,” Gök said.

“It’s been a year since we demanded in Parliament for Turks abroad to be able to vote in the country they are residing in. But the government did not take the necessary steps for one year.” 

Germany, where the most Turkish citizens reside abroad, recently decided to remove barriers for Turkish citizens to vote in consulates. Following Germany’s green light, the issue was taken to YSK last week.

There are nearly 2.5 million Turkish voters in Europe. Only 110,000 of them used their voting right in 2007.

A report by Turkish-German Education and Scientific Researches Foundation, or TAVAK, found 39.3 percent of Turkish citizens in Germany favor the AKP, 27.4 percent favor the CHP, 10.7 percent favor the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, and 9.7 percent favor the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP.

Edited (3/1/2011) by tunci

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