The upcoming elections in Türkiye are most definitely making headlines – same as in any other democracy the will of the people and of course in regular intervals determines the future outlook of the country. Yet for our expatriate community and keeping up with the news as they are unfolding in the build-up to the vote may prove cumbersome unless we are reasonably well trained in the local language. Hence this brief overview is meant to explain which offices are at stake without any untoward (party-political) lingo.
Actually, there are two elections in one – on the one hand the presidential, and on the other hand the parliamentary votes. We shall return to that important distinction.
Let us start with a little bit of number crunching courtesy a fine summary article published by Anadolu Agency (www.aa.com.tr; ‘20 days left until Türkiye’s presidential, parliamentary elections’, 24 April 2023): polling stations are open from 8 o’clock in the morning until 17 hours in the afternoon. In Türkiye there are at present just over 64.11 million eligible voters. 4.9 million out of those are first time voters. The electorate will be provided with 191,884 ballot boxes in the 87 constituencies.
Türkiye’s political spectrum is very varied and in 2023, 24 political parties including five political alliances are competing for each and every individual vote. Besides, there are 151 independent candidates running for elected office.
With regards to the presidential vote four candidates have put their hats into the political ring including the incumbent office holder President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Voters residing overseas or travelling during that period are able to cast their ballots abroad as well, and in no less than 75 countries. 3.41 million voters fall into that category.
In case you are wondering how political roles and tasks are divided amongst the elected office holders one can best describe the Republic of Türkiye as a modern democracy based on a Constitution with the elected President as the head of state and government, in coordination with a cabinet or in this case, the Council of Ministers. Then there is the legislative branch of government, the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye, the national parliament made up of 600 seats. The presidential system came into force in the year 2018.
The interesting thing is that in the Turkish presidential system, the President is now elected by the population and not as in some other countries chosen by members of parliament. Many commentators thus argue that it is a vital detail of the functioning Turkish democracy. Should no candidate of the four achieve an overall majority in the 14 May vote, a run-off vote between the two top placed candidates will be held two weeks thereafter.
Similar to many other nations the one politician most visible besides the elected President is the Foreign Minister who of course travels extensively abroad and is thus well known overseas, too.
Relevance for expatriate community
It is very often difficult to estimate what matters more to international residents – policies made on local and regional level, or policies implemented on national level. In Türkiye we would in all likelihood say: both!
Let us explain – local policies aimed at foreign residents certainly depend on the general framework decided beforehand in the capital Ankara. Think international outlook, consider investments in the hospitality and tourism sectors. A nation state that appears global in its principal outlook attracts visitors who eventually may opt to settle for good.
Then there are local and regional measures and policies. A local mayor has quite some impact on determining the way his or her town or city will share in this responsibility.
Our very own Kuşadası is a perfect example for this successful working together regionally and nationally. Whilst the resort has its unique charm and flavour so to speak it is part and parcel of the wider picture, a constantly modernizing and upgrading herself Republic of Türkiye.
And the winner is? Well, this was not the reason for putting pen to paper. We will all closely follow the next few weeks and learn about the results. Most important in this context is the fact that our Turkish friends and neighbours are very proud of their country and her immense achievements and will cast their ballots according to their personal preferences. It has a highly educated and enterprising population. It looks east, west, north, and south. It has given us expatriates a fantastic, welcoming new home. Hence: best wishes to all candidates and ultimately elected office holders who will for sure continue on this very successful path.