By Umay Kader
Turkey is preparing for one of the most controversial general elections in its history, as citizens get ready to cast their ballots this Sunday, November 1. They will be the second general elections in 2015 after those held on June 7, and as argued by Al Monitor, they could shape more than next four years seeing that the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which lost its ability to rule in a single party government during the last June 7 elections, aims to acquire enough seats to consolidate its power and make a constitutional change that would usher in the presidential system in place of the current parliamentary system.
As BBC News has also indicated, along with concerns about authoritarian tendencies in Turkey, security has also become a prominent issue prior to the elections mainly because of the revived threats of PKK and ISIS attacks after the Ankara bombings on October 10.
The numbers of the eligible voters before the June 7 elections was estimated as 53,749,850. Since June, however, the number of citizens who became eligible to vote has increased approximately by 300,000, thus raising the number of those who can participate in Sunday’s elections to 54,049,936.
According to Al Jazeera, there are two different views in terms of the effect of this increase in the size of the electorate. As these numbers are constituted by young, newly eligible voters, some argue that Turkey’s youth will be highly influential in determining the results of the election; others argue, however, that the rate of young people’s participation in elections is not that high, and that the increase in the size of the electorate will therefore not have a considerable effect on the results of the election.
Turkish citizens living abroad already cast their ballots between October 8 and 25. Here, 1,034,000 Turkish citizens have voted out of an eligible 2,895,885. Voters will still be able to cast their ballots at customs until November 1, at 5:00 pm Turkish time. According to Al Jazeera, voter turnout abroad increased from 35% in the June elections to 43.7% in the October elections.
Electoral turnout for the last three general elections was 84.2% in 2007, 87.1% in 2011 and 86.4% for the June 7 elections this year. Hurriyet Daily News indicated that according to survey companies’ estimates, voter turnout on Sunday is expected to be between 84% and 86%.
As the New York Times indicated, violence and political uncertainty has cast a shadow over Turkey recently as voters hope Sunday’s parliamentary elections to restore stability. However, if the vote once again results in a hung parliament with no parties able to form a coalition, it is also possible that another round of snap elections could be called.