While much of the spotlight for the Turkish Parliamentary and Presidential elections has been on voters inside Turkiye, a sizeable part of the electorate actually lives abroad.
Currently, 3.4 million overseas Turks have the right to vote in elections in Turkiye. The figure represents around 5% of the Turkish electorate of 64.1 million people.
A change in the law in 2012 allowed Turkish expatriates to vote in their country of residence, making it far easier for the diaspora to participate in Turkish elections. The first elections this change came into play for was the 2014 Presidential Elections.
For the 2023 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, Turkish diplomatic missions have been organising polling stations in 73 countries worldwide. According to Turkiye’s Supreme Electoral Board (YSK – Yüksek Seçim Kurulu), the turnout of overseas voters was 52.69%.
The results from the Turkish diaspora in the first round of the Presidential race threw up some interesting outcomes for the two main candidates, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Across the 73 different territories where Turkish expats could vote, Kılıçdaroğlu came first in 47 of them, while Erdoğan was top in 26 countries.
Erdoğan has placed a lot of emphasis on engaging with the diaspora during his 20-year tenure as head of the Turkish government. Many identify with his conservative Turkish Muslim outlook and have welcomed his assistance in calling out the racism and Islamophobia they face in their countries of residence.
Not surprisingly, Erdoğan polled strongest in the central European states that are home to the biggest Turkish populations: Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Austria.
The Turkish President also carried the vote in many Muslim majority countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon (where he received a whopping 95.44% of the vote) and Pakistan.
Turkish voters casting their votes in Islamabad, Pakistan
Çok kıymetli vatandaşlarımız,
Sizlerin değerli katılımları ve işbirliğinde 6-7 Mayıs 2023 tarihlerinde Büyükelçiliğimizde düzenlediğimiz seçimlerimizi başarıyla tamamladık.
Hepinize teşekkür ederiz.
Saygılarımızı sunuyoruz. pic.twitter.com/79BSYlBARl
— Turkish Embassy in Islamabad (@TrEmbIslamabad) May 7, 2023
In contrast, Kılıçdaroğlu received overwhelming support from voters in Australia, Britain, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.
Surprisingly, the leader of the main opposition also secured the most votes in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, which is home to the fifth largest Turkish diaspora in the world. In the past, most Turkish voters in the TRNC have supported President Erdoğan.
Top 10 Diaspora voting in 1st round of 2023 Presidential Elections
Below are the turnout figures and unofficial voting results for the first round of the Turkish Presidential race from the ten biggest territories according to the total size of their electorate. A full breakdown of Turkish votes abroad can be found on the Sabah website.
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 65.4%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 32.61%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.29%
- Muharrem İnce: 0.7%
Electorate size: 1,504,967 | Turnout: 48.31%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 64.76%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 33.63%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.1%
- Muharrem İnce: 0.5%
Electorate size: 399,365 | Turnout: 49.47%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 68.41%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 28.85%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.99%
- Muharrem İnce: 0.76%
Electorate size: 287,888 | Turnout: 50.39%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 72.31%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 24.65%
- Sinan Oğan: 2.15%
- Muharrem İnce: 0.88%
Electorate size: 154,582 | Turnout: 55.58%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 53.49%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 39.41%
- Sinan Oğan: 3.66%
- Muharrem İnce: 3.44%
Electorate size: 140,680 | Turnout: 58.67%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 80.41%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 16.2%
- Sinan Oğan: 2.01%
- Muharrem İnce: 1.39%
Electorate size: 135,383 | Turnout: 38.32%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 79.04%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 18.25%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.31%
- Muharrem İnce: 1.48%
Electorate size: 127,852 | Turnout: 50.1%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 71.96%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 25.9%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.47%
- Muharrem İnce: 0.68%
Electorate size: 115,074 | Turnout: 54.17%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 57.6%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 40.33%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.36%
- Muharrem İnce: 0.71%
Electorate size: 105,820 | Turnout: 56.79%
- Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: 54.47%
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 42.65%
- Sinan Oğan: 1.59%
- Muharrem İnce: 1.29%
Electorate size: 53,902 | Turnout: 35.21%