The Turkish and Kurdish diaspora in Montreal is betting on the second round of elections to see the tide turn in Turkey
After an inconclusive result in the first round of presidential elections on May 14, the Turkish diaspora in Montreal will be able to vote in advance in the second round of elections from May 20-24, which will define the president of the Republic of Turkey for the next five years on May 28.
Having narrowly missed the absolute majority that would have allowed him re-election in the first round, incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is in contention with Social Democratic candidate Kemal Kiliçdaroglu in the first second round of a presidential election in a hundred years of existence of the Republic.
Although the country's constitution limits presidential terms to two, Erdoğan has been in power for twenty years and is seeking to renew his term again.
“Since 2010 we have been governed by the same party, the dictatorship must be abolished,” says Ayla*, a Montreal resident originally from Istanbul.
She argues that the concentration of power within the same party for twenty years and the arrival of nearly 4 million Syrian refugees in the country since 2011 have plunged the country into the current economic, social and political crisis.
“The inflation rate, unemployment and wage inequity are very high in Turkey. We have a lot of problems because corruption is present in all spheres of our society, including the electoral system,” she denounces.
If Ayla does not believe that the main opposition party is “solid” enough to stop the country's decline, she is convinced that only a change of power could still help restore the people's confidence in its political system.
“We must protect the secularism and freedom of thought, threatened more than ever, adds the mother. Currently, if you say something against the government, you can be imprisoned. This needs to change.”
The [ people] want to get rid of the regime. We thought that another party would win the election in the first round, but unfortunately that was not the case.
Murat Guzel, co-president of the Kurdish Foundation of Quebec.
< p>Mr. Guzel also denounces the malfunctioning of the Turkish economic, political and immigration systems, highlighting in particular its impact on the increase in crime in the country, the shortage of services for the many refugees hosted in the country and the distrust of the people in the electoral system.
“Since the Turkish Republic was created [in 1923], the Kurds have had no rights, but for twenty years democracy has gone further backwards. The current government controls everything, everywhere in the country, and [anyone] who opposes its decisions can be sent to prison”, expresses the one who will exercise his vote again in Montreal in a few days.
Historically High Turnout
The May 14 election saw the third-highest voter turnout in the history of the nation's electoral system.
In Montreal, more than 4,000 people from the Turkish and Kurdish diaspora cast their ballots at the electoral offices open at the Consulate General of Turkey in Montreal. In Canada, the participation rate of the diaspora was 53.1%, or 21 480 voters out of the 40 418 registered on the electoral list, which mirrors the participation rate recorded elsewhere abroad. /p>
People voted in a politically harsh environment, but it was done peacefully and with respect. I am [confident] that the second round will take place under the same conditions.
Sencer Yöndem, Consul General of Turkey in Montreal
Mr. Yöndem maintains that information on the lack of transparency of the electoral system conveyed by certain Turkish media has been denied by representatives of political parties, including the opposition party.
“This shows that the elections are quite reliable”, he says, confirming that the operation of each of the polling stations at the consulate in Montreal on May 14 was ensured by a team composed of two public officials and a representative of each of the three political parties in the running.
“I am sure that the second round will be held with as much transparency and this time the choice of the people will be final,” he says.
The Turkish Diaspora in Montreal will have the opportunity to vote in advance from May 20 to 24 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. at the offices of the Consulate General of Turkey in Montreal.
*fictitious name to protect his identity.
This script was produced as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.