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.