THE COMING YEAR will see no fewer than four elections that the Turkish-speaking communities of Britain will be following with close interest.
Local elections – to be held in both Britain and Turkey in the spring – have been described by analysts as critical barometers on the performance of national governments ahead of parliamentary elections in 2015.
Also in the spring, British voters will also be choosing representatives to send to the European Parliament in an election that many believe will be won by the UK Independence Party, which favours withdrawal from the EU.
Later in the summer, Turkish voters – including, for the first time, Turkish passport holders living abroad – will be voting to directly elect their president for the first time in history.
Campaigning is well underway for the 160 English councils – including all 32 London boroughs – that face the ballot box in elections on 22 May.
Candidates with Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Kurdish roots are among those competing to become one of the 4,161 councillors that will be elected on 22 May 2014, primarily in such places as Hackney, Enfield, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest.
Enfield, where more Turkish and Kurdish-speaking people live than any other London borough, also hosts the largest number of candidates.
Analysts point to the huge influence Turkish and Kurdish-speaking voters will have at the upcoming election in Enfield.
The 2011 census identified 13,968 Enfield residents with a place of birth in Turkey – higher than anywhere else in Britain – placing Turks second only behind white British residents as the largest ethnic group in Enfield.
Combined with Turkish Cypriots and Kurds, the community carries clear influence in Enfield’s election.
On the same day in May, voters will elect members to the European Parliament.
TURKISH CRUNCH VOTES
On 30 March, voters in Turkey will be electing the people who will lead their own local councils for the next five years. The election has been described by many as a referendum on the governing AK Party, which has suffered popular protest in the summer of 2013 and was swept into a corruption scandal in the dying days of last year.
The AK Party is expected to win the election, but the margin of that victory will determine how much popularity it has lost or retained.
Expatriate voters in London cannot vote in the Turkish local election, but they will vote in the country’s first direct presidential election. A date has not been set but it must be held by the end of August.
Candidates have yet to be declared by current president Abdullah Gül – following a Constitutional Court ruling – is eligible to run.