The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) recently submitted a law proposal to the Parliament Speaker's Office that aims to restructure overseas voters as a separate constituency and dedicate 15 seats in Parliament to them. The proposal, prepared by AK Party Istanbul Deputy Mustafa Yeneroğlu and Deputy Chairman Mustafa Şentop, foresees overseas voters to vote at any ballot box within the proposed constituency.
In a statement, Yeneroğlu said that voters abroad had the chance to cast their vote in election in their country of origin for the first time in the 2014 presidential election and over 1 million Turkish citizens living abroad used their democratic right to vote in the recent June 7 general elections. Yeneroğlu said: "As overseas is not considered a separate constituency, our citizens who live abroad do not have seats in Parliament to represent themselves. If the proposal passes in Parliament, the structural and legal obstruction regarding the direct representation of citizens abroad will be eliminated with this constituency." Explaining that those living abroad will be considered a separate constituency, Yeneroğlu added: "Taking 2.8 million oversees voters' proportion within the total count of voters and their breakdown for each country into consideration, we are thinking that the dedication of 15 seats to citizens living abroad will provide our expats adequate representation in Parliament."
The right to vote for Turkish citizens living abroad was granted with an amendment to the Constitution's 67th clause in 1995, which later was also implemented into the Electoral Law in 2008. Until an amendment that was passed in Parliament in 2012, Turkish citizens living overseas had to cast their votes at Turkish customs stations, causing low turnout in elections and bringing questions about the level of representation for those living abroad.
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