By Baris Seckin
ANKARA (AA) – This will be the fifth time Turkish expatriates will get an opportunity to vote in the country's election process when they go to polls late June.
Polling stations for the expats will be set up in 60 countries.
The first time Turkish nationals were able to vote from abroad was on Aug. 10, 2014, which was the first popular election of the presidency; it was followed by parliamentary elections on June 7, 2015, early general elections on Nov. 1, 2015 and then the April 16, 2017, referendum.
The number of Turkish nationals abroad, number of countries where polling booths will be set up and the participation rate of the citizens has seen a rising trend since 2014.
– 2014 election
The 2014 presidential election was a significant experience for Turkish voters abroad, which gave them an opportunity to vote under several new initiatives.
Some 2,798,726 Turkish expatriates in 54 countries were eligible to vote through a mandatory appointment system. But since the system was new and it was summertime, it led to a low participation rate.
Only 230,938 citizens (8.25 percent) voted in foreign missions; 297,340 expatriates (10,62 percent) voted at Turkey’s customs gates.
– Voting twice in 2015
Turkish nationals abroad went to the polls twice in 2015 for the country's parliamentary elections.
During the June 7, 2015, parliamentary elections, 931,646 (32.50 percent) out of 2,866,979 expats voted at foreign missions. Ballots cast at custom gates dropped by 4.34 percent with 124,432 voters registering their ballots.
The participation rate in the November 2015 early general elections soared compared to presidential elections held in 2014.
When early general elections took place on Nov. 1, 2015, polling stations were set up in 54 countries.
The number of Turkish nationals eligible to vote from overseas increased by approximately 33,000, thus the number of expats rose to 2,899,069. Among these nationals, 1,159,871 citizens (40.01 percent) voted in foreign missions. Meanwhile, 4.78 percent or 138,454 voters chose to cast their ballots at customs gates.
– 2017 referendum
The last time Turkish nationals cast their ballots was during the referendum on proposed constitutional changes on April 16, 2017.
A record number of overseas Turkish voters had cast their ballots at 120 polling stations in 57 countries in the referendum — 1,325,682 out of 2,972,676 or 44.60 percent.
About 98,597 people also voted at customs gates in Turkey, which was 3.32 percent of the total.
The rates showed that Turks preferred to vote in foreign missions rather than customs gates, and that they had adapted to voting overseas.
In the April 2017 referendum, Turkish voters voted in favor of the switch from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
– June 24 polls
More Turkish expatriates will be able to vote in the upcoming early parliamentary and presidential elections slated for June 24 in Turkey after polling stations are set up in three more European countries: Malta, Serbia and Moldova.
For the first time, Turkish nationals residing in Malta, Serbia, and Moldova will be able to vote for an election in their countries of residence, bringing the number of countries where Turkish expats would able to vote to 60.
A total of 3,049,065 eligible Turkish nationals abroad are set to cast their votes in Turkey's foreign missions between June 7 and June 19. Voters can also go to polls in customs gates during the same period.
A total of 3,160 ballot boxes will be set up in 123 foreign missions of Turkey for the early elections.
Last month, Turkish parliament passed a bill calling for early elections on June 24, cementing Turkey’s move to a presidential system.