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Turkish Voters Head to Polls in Western Balkans, Baltic States

Turkish citizens living in the Western Balkans, Baltic states of Lithuania, Belarus and Estonia, as well as Portugal and Slovakia, started casting their ballots in Türkiye’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

Voting started at 9.00 a.m. local time (0700GMT) and will continue for 12 hours, reopening on Sunday for the same period.

Voters formed long lines in front of Türkiye’s diplomatic missions.

Ahmet Burak Doğan, who cast his ballot in Serbia’s capital Belgrade, said he had fulfilled his civic duty.

“I recommend everyone do this. Good luck for our country,” said Doğan.

Ufuk Erarslan, who traveled more than 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) to cast his vote, said he participated in the elections for a better future for his country.

“We will use our vote so that we have the right to criticize everything,” he said.

A man casts his ballot in Minsk, Belarus, May 6, 2023. (AA Photo)
A man casts his ballot in Minsk, Belarus, May 6, 2023. (AA Photo)

Ayşe Gönül said she wanted to come and vote as early as possible.

“Good luck for Türkiye. I think everyone should cast their votes,” she said.

There are nearly 2,311 eligible Turkish voters in Serbia, according to data from Türkiye’s Supreme Election Council (YSK).

Expatriates can vote in Belgrade’s capital and the Consulate General of Novi Pazar.

The voting process has also started in Kosovo’s capital Pristina.

Ambassador Sabri Tunç Angili told Anadolu he was expecting significant interest in the elections from Turkish voters.

“This year, it is possible to vote in 73 countries in our 151 representative offices, and we increased the number of them compared to 2018. So I hope it will benefit our entire nation, our country,” said Angili.

There are 2,192 registered voters across Kosovo.

Voters can vote at the embassy in Pristina and Consulate General in Prizren.

The Turkish Embassy in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica opened its doors to 1,704 registered voters.

In Estonia, over 776 Turkish nationals can vote in polling stations in the Turkish Embassy in Tallinn.

In Lithuania, 795 eligible voters are turning to the polling stations established in the Turkish Embassy in Vilnius.

A total of 644 Turkish citizens in Belarus are eligible to vote at the polling station set up in the Turkish Embassy in Minsk.

Voting will continue through 9 p.m. local time in the three Baltıc countries on Sunday, May 7.

Portugal and Slovakia

According to Supreme Election Board data, Turkish nationals in Portugal also went to the polls in the capital Lisbon, with 1,484 Turkish voters registered there.

Meanwhile, ballot boxes were set up for the first time in Slovakia. The procedure began at the embassy in Bratislava, with high participation.

Ambassador Yunus Demirer told Anadolu Agency (AA) that voters were greatly interested in the ballot.

“A lot of interest as soon as the voting hour arrived. We’re very pleased with this. The tendency of our citizens abroad to vote more in each election and to participate more in political life is very pleasing for all of us,” said Demirer.

Bahattin Demiral, who has been living in Slovakia for 28 years and came to the embassy to vote from a distance of 450 km, said he was delighted with the decision to open ballot boxes.

“The establishment of ballot boxes in Bratislava is great for the homeland,” said Demiral.

Voting in Türkiye will take place on Sunday, May 14. Voters will choose between four presidential hopefuls: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking reelection; prominent opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Muharrem Ince, and Sinan Oğan.

Meanwhile, 24 political parties and 151 independent candidates are vying for seats in the 600-member Turkish Parliament.

About 3.41 million Turkish citizens are eligible to vote abroad, where voting has already begun in some countries.

Source : Daily Sabah