On Saturday, polls for the Turkish presidential runoff elections opened for the millions of Turkish citizens residing outside the country. The second round of voting will take place domestically on May 28. Neither President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main challenger, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, attained the majority support required for an outright victory in the first round last week.
Some 3.4 million Turks abroad are eligible to vote and form part of the 64 million registered to vote in the Turkish elections.
Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its nationalist allies won a comfortable parliamentary majority in the first round of voting on May 14.
Germany, home to the largest Turkish diaspora, has some 3 million people with Turkish roots, with 1.5 million of them being registered to vote.
The Turkish electoral authority said Turks can vote until May 24 at any of the 17 polling stations in the country.
Turkish people and Germany-Turkish dual nationals from Berlin and Brandenburg can cast their vote so long they had registered in the first round of voting, according to the Turkish Embassy in Berlin.
Kilicdaroglu urged Turks living abroad to vote, saying it was their “national duty” to do so.
“Wherever you are in the world, heading to the ballot box in this election is a national duty,” Kilicdaroglu said in a video message on Twitter.
Turkey’s electoral board officially confirmed results of the first round on Friday, announcing that Erdogan secured 49.24% of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu secured 45.07%.
A third candidate, nationalist politician Sinan Ogan, received 5.25%, necessitating a runoff election between the top two contenders.
Why are the Turkish elections so significant?
The elections are being followed around the world because of the competition between the candidates and the prospect that “the opposition may win,” Turkish policy expert Asli Aydintasbas told DW before the first round on May 14.
She explained Turks were “voting for two starkly different world visions.” While there is strong support for Erdogan, first time voters in Turkey don’t know of the country before the leader, with many calling for change, DW found by speaking with them.
In the last election in 2018, Erdogan won in the first round with more than 52% of the vote.