Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed this week that about 30,000 Syrians are eligible to vote in the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Around 30,000 Syrians have received Turkish citizenship so far,” Yildirim told journalists in the beach city of Izmir in Turkey’s western province, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. “They have the right to vote but I do not know how many of them will use that right. They are our guests and they will return to their country.”
Yildirim reportedly stressed that Syrians living in Turkey “must obey the Turkish law” and said that their failure to do so could result in deportation. “If they do not, then we will take them by their hand back to where they came from,” Yildirim said.
Turkey has taken in the largest number of refugees in the world to date and reportedly had 3.5 million registered refugees in the country at the end of 2017. According to a June 19 report by the United Nations, most of these refugees are Syrian and this will likely help President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the polls.
Breitbart News reported last year that “Turkey is home to an estimated three million Syrian refugees.”
Erdoğan is seeking re-election to the presidency. He assumed office in 2014. His party is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP or AK Party).
In February, CNN reported that Erdoğan has been criticized for “failing to protect women’s and human rights, curbing freedom of speech and attempting to curb Turkey’s secular identity” and he has personally labeled social media as “the worst menace to society.”
Erodgan and the AKP’s leading opposition is Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP). The CHP recently told Kurdish news outlet Rudaw that if its candidate Muharrem Ince wins, it could offer one the nation’s deputy presidencies to a Kurd.
Following in line with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s first president and founder of the country’s secular political system (and the CHP), Ince has reportedly pledged to end compulsory religious courses and continue to offer elective religious courses in public schools; a stark departure from President Erdogan’s perceived reversal of Atatürk’s founding vision.
Erdogan is also facing opposition from a pro-Kurdish presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who was imprisoned for allegedly aiding terrorism through the advocacy of Kurdish rights. He reportedly was accused of helping the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Turkish government identifies as a terrorist organization
This month, Demirtas delivered a campaign speech through his cell phone from his jail cell in Turkey following a rejection of a request to free him to allow him to campaign.