Turkey Moves to Influence Bulgaria's Parliamentary Elections

Politics » EU & PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 2009 | July 1, 2009, Wednesday // 21:35| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Turkey Moves to Influence Bulgaria's Parliamentary Elections The DPS is expected to benefit from the latest administrative measures in Turkey encouraging Bulgarian Turks residing there to vote in the Bulgarian elections. Photo by BGNES

Turkey has approved an administrative measure in order to urge Bulgarian expats of Turkish origin to vote in Bulgaria's Parliamentary Elections.

The Turkish authorities have announced they would extend the expired documents of Bulgarian citizens living in Turkey illegally. Thus, Bulgarians of Turkish origin, who live in Turkey, could apply for one-year extensions by July 3, Friday, the Bulgarian National Radio announced.

This means that all Bulgarian citizens residing in Turkey illegally would be able to either go back to Bulgaria and vote in the elections on July 5, or just vote in some of the 123 voting sections in Turkey without fearing that they would be fined, arrested, or extradited.

The Chair of the largest organization of Bulgarian expats in Turkey, Emin Balkan, has held a special press conference to urge all Bulgarian citizens in Turkey or all persons with dual citizenship to vote in Bulgaria's Parliamentary Elections on June 5.

Balkan even warned all those who would travel back to Bulgaria to cast their votes to go back to their home places at least 48 hours before the elections in order to avoid tension at the border on the Election Day. The Turkish authorities have made it clear that no one whose documents for staying in Turkey have expired would be fined, and that all those who go to Bulgaria in order to vote would then be allowed to come back.

According to unofficial data, at least 100 000 with dual Bulgarian and Turkish citizenship live in Turkey, and at least half of them vote in each Bulgarian elections.

The large number of Bulgarian expats in Turkey resulted from the campaign of the communist regime in the 1980s to assimilate the Bulgarian Turks and Muslims by renaming them, which led many of them to emigrate.

The fact that the Turkish authorities are encouraging Bulgarian citizens residing in Turkey to vote in the Bulgarian elections is construed in Bulgaria as an attempt to enhance the election results of the ethnic Turkish party in Bulgaria, Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). This situation has become a big issue in Bulgaria's politics and society to the extent of fueling far-right and extremist sentiments. The lower the voter turnout in Bulgaria, the greater the weight of the votes that come from Turkey, which go for the DPS almost 100%.


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