Consul General Çınar Ergin tells Haber that the Turkish consulate building open all weekend to help voters needing emergency papers to vote
Nearly 90,000 Turkish expatriates are eligible to vote in the UK in this year’s executive presidency referendum, Turkey’s consul-general in London has told Haber.
Çınar Ergin, who began in his role just last month, said the number of registered voters had increased to 89,553 – a rise of nearly five thousand on the UK-based electorate for the last Turkish general election on 1 November 2015.
In an interview at the Turkish consulate in London, Mr Ergin said Turkish expats would be voting from the UK for the fourth time and that this would be the most extensive election yet.
Voting will be spread across four days between Thursday 6 and Sunday 9 April, he said, and with the ballot boxes open between 9am and 9pm on each of those days.
Ballot papers arrived
“The election materials – the ballot boxes, the voting papers, the stamps – have all arrived and are being stored behind a triple-lock door,” he said.
In another change expatriates will be voting in Hammersmith, not Olympia, when polls open for the referendum next month.
The Novotel London West, a hotel and exhibition centre with capacity for up to 2,000 delegates, has been hired for the event.
Mr Ergin said a vast range of options – even including football stadiums – were considered but eventually ruled out because of stringent regulations set out by Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board, the YSK.
Extended consulate opening hours
He said the YSK regulated everything from the size of the venue to the types of computers, the data link requirements and security needs, and that the Novotel was the available venue that fitted the bill.
Under YSK rules, he added, representatives from three Turkish political parties – the Justice and Development (AK) Party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – could appoint observers to the ballot boxes on voting day.
Expatriates require either their national identity card or their Turkish passport in order to vote.
The Turkish consulate in Knightsbridge will be open throughout the weekend to help anyone who may have misplaced their identity papers and ensure they can vote before the ballots close at 9pm on Sunday 9 April.
Expatriates living further north in the UK can also vote at the Turkish consulate building in Edinburgh at the following address: Forsyth House, 93 George St, EH2 3ES.
Better tube connections
The previous voting centre at Olympia had been criticised in the community for its poor transport connections: the nearest station, Kensington (Olympia), is mostly accessible by boarding a special District line shuttle train from Earl’s Court.
The Novotel, however, is next to Hammersmith station and can be reached using the London Underground District, Hammersmith & City or Piccadilly lines.
Voters in Turkey will go to the polls on Sunday 16 April, a week after expatriate voters, to decide whether to grant sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Turkish government says the proposals are needed to streamline the decision-making process, but critics say they concentrate too much power in the hands of one man – Mr Erdoğan.
There are approximately three million Turkish expatriates registered to vote worldwide.