Expats in this country go against the flow and opt not to support the frontrunner
Originally published 14 August 2014
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu was the surprise choice of Turkish expatriates voting in the first presidential election to be held overseas.
Nearly half of the five thousand voters who came to Kensington’s Olympia Centre opted for the main rival to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the overall victor.
Mr İhsanoğlu won 2,525 votes – 49.72% of everyone who voted – and was ahead of Selahattin Demirtaş on 1,358 votes (26.75%). Mr Erdoğan came last on 1,195 votes (23.53%).
According to figures from the Cihan news agency, there were 78,857 registered votes in the UK and that turnout was just 6.4%.
On Monday Mr Erdogan began the process of picking his successor as prime minister, someone he hopes will triumph in next year’s general election and secure his goal of forging a powerful presidency.
His victory in the country’s first direct ballot for the head of state on Sunday took Turkey a step closer to the presidential system he has long coveted.
“Today is a new day, a milestone for Turkey, the birthday of Turkey, of its rebirth from the ashes,” Mr Erdogan told thousands of supporters in a victory speech from the balcony of the AK Party headquarters in Ankara late on Sunday.
He took around 52 percent of the vote on Sunday, a narrower margin than polls had suggested, although he was still 13 points ahead of his closest rival, avoiding the need for a second-round runoff.
Mr Erdogan has vowed to exercise the full powers granted to the presidency under current laws, unlike predecessors who played a mainly ceremonial role. But he has made no secret of his plans to change the constitution and forge an executive presidency.
“I want to underline that I will be the president of all 77 million people, not only those who voted for me. I will be a president who works for the flag, for the country, for the people,” he said in his victory speech.