Turks in Switzerland head to the polls

A man at a rally in Istanbul ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections set to take place on May 14 Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey on May 14 have begun for the more than 100,000 Turks in Switzerland. They have until 9pm on Sunday to cast their votes.

This content was published on May 2, 2023 - 09:01

Three voting centres – at the embassy in Bern, the consulate general in Geneva and the Zurich Exhibition Centre – opened their doors on Saturday, the Turkish embassy in Switzerland told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA. They will remain open until May 7.

+ What’s at stake in Turkey’s upcoming elections?

There are 105,820 Turkish voters registered in Switzerland, the embassy said, based on figures from the Supreme Turkish Electoral Council. A total of 64 million voters in Turkey and around the world have been called to the polls for an election that has been seen as a referendum against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This is the first time Erdogan is running against a united opposition.

In the 2018 presidential election, Erdogan came out on top in Switzerland with 37.2% of the vote, compared with 31.9% for the candidate of the social democratic CHP, Muharrem Ince, and 27.5% for the candidate of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas.

Erdogan’s result was judged “poor” at the time by the president of the federation of Turkish associations in French-speaking Switzerland, Celâl Bayar.

In the parliamentary elections, Erdogan’s Islamic-conservative AKP received 31.3% of the votes of Turks in Switzerland and was overtaken by the HDP with 40.8%. The CHP, founded by the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, received 17.29%.

A year earlier, Turks in Switzerland rejected Erdogan’s proposed draft constitution with almost 62% of the vote. The bill ultimately won a narrow victory.

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