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Turkey's 3.5 million expats vote in high numbers as HDP endorses Kilicdaroglu

The millions of Turkish nationals residing abroad have begun heading to the ballot boxes, and their absentee ballots could sway the outcome of the crucial May 14 polls.
A couple walks past billboards with the portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and with the portrait of Republican People's Party (CHP) leader and presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu (R) in Sanliurfa, south-eastern Turkey on April 28, 2023. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

ANKARA — Tens of thousands of Turkey nationals living outside the country have begun heading to polls to vote ahead of the country’s crucial elections, which remain too close to predict.

Absentee voting has begun this week in five European countries, including Germany, which is home to the largest Turkish expat population in the world. According to official figures, more than 40,000 registered voters across Europe have already cast their ballots for the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections on Thursday and Friday.

Turkey has set up voting centers in international airports, customs offices and other locations in 73 countries including 14 Middle Eastern and North African nations. Voting in seven more countries including the United States is set to begin on Saturday. More voting centers will be gradually opened elsewhere through May 9.

The ballots will be taken to the capital Ankara and counted.


In the 2018 presidential elections, Erdogan won more than 60% of expat votes. Yet the political scene is quite different ahead of the May 14 polls. The president is facing his toughest reelection bid yet amid a growing cost-of-living crisis and the country’s opposition has largely united against him.

HDP endorses Kilicdaroglu

On Thursday, the country’s second-largest opposition bloc in the parliament, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), declared its support for main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The leftist alliance led by the HDP called on its base to vote for the main opposition against Erdogan.  

“Turkey is heading to the most important elections in its history, facing multiple crises in political, social and economic fronts,” read a statement by the alliance.

The HDP’s support has been a critical boost for Kilicdaroglu as the Kurds are expected to be one of the kingmakers of the elections.

Yet, despite the HDP’s support and the social and economic woes the country is facing, Kilicdaroglu and his Republican People’s Party-led six-party opposition bloc has yet to fully capitalize on these grievances.

An Al-Monitor/Premise poll earlier this week found a tie between the two frontrunners, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu.

As such, the 3.5 million registered voters across the seven continents could sway the outcomes, particularly in the presidential race. Some 278,000 of those expats are first-time voters, and the poll suggests the majority of the crucial undecided voter population is young people. 

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