Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told Today’s Zaman that since Blue Card holders have voluntarily renounced their Turkish citizenship, they will not be able to vote in elections in Turkey.
A bill that introduces an amendment to the elections and electoral registries law and several other laws will also regulate the rights of Turks who have renounced their Turkish citizenship to gain citizenship in another country, and it has been referred to a sub-commission by Parliament’s Constitutional Reconciliation Commission.
The new bill also allows Turkish citizens living abroad to vote in Turkish elections from the countries in which they are currently residing. With the adoption of the bill, the Blue Card, which functions as a quasi-passport for those who have renounced their Turkish citizenship to gain citizenship in another country, will acquire legal status, and a registry for Blue Card holders will be established. But Blue Card holders will not vote in Turkish elections.
Bozdağ said: “The bill will allow 2.5 million Turkish citizens living abroad to vote in Turkish elections at both customs gates and in the countries in which they are currently residing.”
Bozdağ, the deputy prime minister in charge of the Overseas Turks and Kin Communities Agency, underlined that the bill addresses problems concerning the current Blue Card practice. “The Blue Card is issued for Turks who have voluntarily renounced their Turkish citizenship. Blue Card holders will be able to benefit from all of the same rights as Turkish citizens, except for the right to elect and be elected, import cars and household appliances with tax exemptions and fulfill their military service obligation. The reason why they cannot exercise these three rights is that these rights are given only to Turkish citizens. Blue Card holders will be able to conduct their legal transactions at public institutions including land registries, in all kinds of purchases and sales in Turkey and in all public offices.
According to current Blue Card practice, when Blue Card holders get married, their spouses and the children that are born after the marriage are not able to obtain a Blue Card. The bill will eliminate these problems by establishing a registry for Blue Card holders. A Blue Card holder will be able to obtain a Blue Card for all of his relatives,” he said.
The bill also allows Turkish citizens who live abroad but are present in Turkey during elections to vote at customs gates without leaving the country. He noted: “Allowing Turkish citizens living abroad to cast their votes only at customs gates is a great deterrent; this is why the majority of the 2.5 million constituents living abroad cannot cast their votes in elections in Turkey, and the participation of Turkish citizens living overseas in the elections was below 10 percent. We hope that after the new amendment, the majority of our citizens living abroad will cast their votes because the ballot boxes will go to them. And they will able to cast their votes without losing time and spending money.”
Underlining that Turkish citizens living in Europe and elsewhere will be able to cast votes at Turkish missions abroad in the presidential election to be held in 2014, Bozdağ said that there will be no change in the way votes that are cast at Turkish missions abroad and customs gates are distributed. The votes of Turkish citizens living abroad will be distributed according to the population of the cities. The distribution of parliamentary seats will be determined after the votes of Turkish citizens living abroad are distributed.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Overseas Turks and Kin Communities Agency (TYB) Chairman Kemal Yurtnaç pointed out that 700,000 people will benefit from the amendment that aims to establish a registry for Blue Card holders.