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Can Syrians sway future elections in Turkey?

Close to 2 million Syrians will obtain the right to seek citizenship in Turkey in 2019, a prospect that may have decisive repercussions on a critical election cycle that year.
A Syrian refugee man walks in Elbeyli refugee camp near the Turkish-Syrian border in Kilis province, Turkey, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTSU6HM

The political value of 3.5 million refugees in Turkey, including 3 million Syrians, appears to be on the rise. Refugees could emerge as a crucial pool of voters in the three elections — municipal, parliamentary and presidential — in 2019. How can this happen?

The first group of 252 refugees fleeing the unrest in Syria crossed into Turkey on April 29, 2011. Their number reached 150,000 at the end of 2012 and 1.9 million in 2014. As of April 29, 2016, the refugees began to obtain the right to apply for Turkish citizenship, having completed the five-year waiting period. Only 252 people obtained that right last year, but the figure will reach 150,000 at the end of 2017 and 1.9 million in 2019. Taking into account refugees from Iraq, other Middle Eastern countries and Africa, the total could well exceed 2 million.

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