Expatriates in London urged to use their vote this month in crucial Turkish general election

President Erdogan proposes major changes to Turkish politics . Pic: Open Democracy

President Erdogan proposes major changes to Turkish politics . Pic: Open Democracy

Turkish expatriots in Eastlondonline boroughs are being urged to vote in the Turkish general election.

The election is expected to be the catalyst of great political change in the country and as such could have an effect on more than just the next four years.

This is the first time Turkish citizens living in the UK will get to vote in their home country’s general election, following a 2012 regulation that allows Turkish citizens to cast their votes in the country where they reside. Previously, Turkish residents were only able to vote in Turkey, or at Turkish customs gates when leaving the country.

Current president, Recep Tayyip  Erdogan plans to make major changes to the Turkish parliament that would require a three-fifths majority of the total number of seats in parliament by secret ballot.

If he obtains the majority, Erdogan will be able to take total political power as well as the ability to pass laws without consulting his government.

Fatma Can, a member of the People’s Democratic Party of Turkey (HDP), told Eastlondonlines that she is campaigning against President  Erdogan and the AKP (Justice and Development Party).

She emphasised the importance of voting for opposition parties due to current political procedures that mean parties must pass a 10% threshold of votes in order to be able to send MPs to parliament.

Can said: “We are campaigning for the Kurdish party to be elected. If they don’t pass the 10% they won’t send a single MP, but if they do pass it, they’ll be able to send 58 MPs.”

If opposition parties stop Erdogan from gaining a majority, and increase their presence in Parliament, it would ensure that the President would not be able to pass the law without consulting his MPs.

According to Can, if Erdogan wins a majority, he would have the power to close down other political parties.

As well as the HDP, the main parties opposing the AKP are the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Can said that a win for pro-Islamist AKP with a majority would allow Erdogan to bring about the ‘Islamisation’ of Turkish society, in a legal way.

“I do not want to live under Islamic law,” she said

Can said that if Erdogan gets his majority he plans to take away the right of girls to go to school, meaning: “if any father wants he can take the girls out of school.”

Israfil Erbil, the Chair of the British Alevi Foundation in Hackney, said Erdogan wanted to change the constitution in his own favour, and the Turkish people did not want that because he is reportedly a radical Islamist.

He also said he “believes [the AKP] are helping pro-radicalist groups in Syria.”

He explained: “The education system is in danger. It’s getting more religious every day, and it’s getting away from science and knowledge.”

A member of management at the Derman health centre, also in Hackney, who did not want to be named, said: “The country is getting away from democracy. Turkey is becoming a dictatorship.”

He also said he would be voting for the CHP, and hoped they would get lots of votes so they can: “balance the power, and stop the governing party to do what they are planning to do.”

Turkish residents in Britain had until March 12th to declare their addresses, which would enable them to vote in the Turkish elections.

They can cast votes at Olympia between May 30-31st in time for the election on June 7.

Several community centres are offering services to aid Turkish residents in voting from London.

The DAY-MER community centre said they had advised voters on,  “where and when they could go and vote” and that they may also be providing transport to voting stations.

Turkish speaking residents are believed to make up 6% of Hackney’s population, and began arriving from the 1930s when Turkish Cypriots arrived as commonwealth citizens, followed by Turkish people from mainland Turkey who came in the 1970s and 80s for political and economical reasons.

Large numbers of the Kurdish community fled persecution in Turkey, Iraq and Iran in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Croydon is also home to large numbers of Turkish-speaking residents.

For more information on the Turkish general election, visit:


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