Some 1.8 million Turkish expatriates had cast votes by the time overseas polls closed on Wednesday for this Sunday’s runoff election, a higher overseas turnout than on May 14, election day, the T24 news website reported, citing Turkey’s election authority.
A total of 1,856,968 Turks abroad cast their votes between May 20 and 24 for the runoff election, according to Supreme Election Board (YSK). Although expatriates were able to cast their votes for a longer period of 12 days for the May 14 elections, the turnout was lower, with 1,691,287 people voting.
The runoff election is being held because neither incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan nor his main rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition party and the presidential candidate of an opposition alliance, was able to surpass the 50 percent threshold required to be elected without the need for a runoff.
Turkish media reports said Turks in some countries hired buses to travel to polling stations in large groups and waited in lines for hours to cast their votes.
The ballots will be sent to Turkey and will be counted following the end of voting in Turkey on Sunday. However, Turkish citizens will still be able to cast their votes at customs checkpoints until May 28.
Turkish expatriates comprise 3.4 million of Turkey’s 64.1 million registered voters and tend to support more conservative candidates. They are mostly those who moved from poorer provinces to Western Europe over the decades under job schemes aimed at combating the continent’s labor shortage in the wake of World War II.
In the May 14 election Erdoğan received 57.7 percent of the vote of Turkish expatriates, while the support for Kılıçdaroğlu stood at 39.6 percent.