Posted by: Andy | March 19, 2011

Cultural Differences: Voting

As an American citizen, there are systems in place that allow me to vote in American elections, no matter where I live in the world.  That’s awesome.  Lots of Americans live abroad either temporarily or permanently and their ability to continue to vote in the country where they have citizenship is an excellent thing in my opinion.

Creative Commons Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/btobin/

Turks living abroad do not have such a privilege.  As I was visiting Germany this past weekend, somebody commented on the number of Turks living in Germany and said, “Berlin is the second biggest Turkish city.”  Well that isn’t true.  Even if every person living in Berlin were Turkish, it still would only be third.  There are 3.5 million people of Turkish ancestry living in Germany.  About half of those retain Turkish citizenship and about half have German citizenship.

As of now, Turkish citizens living abroad are unable to vote in Turkish elections from abroad.  They would need to return to Turkey to cast their vote.  There are no absentee ballots.  In the last election (in 2007) there were boxes set up at the borders for people to vote, but 60% of Turkish citizens living abroad live in Germany, which shares no border with Turkey.

The Turkish president and prime minister are working hard to remedy this situation, meeting with German officials and trying to work out systems where Turkish citizens living in Germany could vote at embassies or consulates.  With the general election coming very quickly (June 12), it seems time is running out for voters to be able to cast their vote.

I guess expats like myself shouldn’t take for granted the fact that we can vote from the comfort of our living rooms on our computers.  Hopefully, Turks in Germany will have this same privilege in the near future.

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