Hackney Turks trek west for presidential election

Scarves @ Anatolian fete Clissold Park Stoke Newington Lon N16 080614 © david.altheer@gmail.com

LONDONERS of Turkish origin will be travelling to Olympia this weekend to vote in the countrys first presidential election.

The embassy has imported 76,000 ballot papers but tells Loving Dalston that the number of voters who go to the Kensington venue is more likely to be around 10,000.

Would-be voters must be on the Turkish electoral register. The expatriates will be able to vote tomorrow and Saturday, although voting in Turkey will not be held until 10 August 2014.

Hackney and other parts of northeast London have a big population of Turks, many of them exiles from northern Cyprus, and of Kurds. Their entrepreneurialism is a prime factor in making Dalston in particular a lure for the fashionable young of London.

Green Lanes is known for its range of food and fabric shops.

Candidates are outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is likely to amend his party’s rules to extend his period of power if he wins this presidential poll; Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, candidate of the two main opposition (centre-left and far-right) parties and Selahattin Demirtaş of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party.

Middle-class Turks and other young people last year organised Istanbul street protests against Erdogan, and his regime has tended to over-react to corruption allegations. The Erdogan government has also made it difficult for journalists to operate.

None of this seems to have had much effect on his party’s electoral appeal.

Hamish Scott 10814 

* Main picture: vibrant colours on sale at an Anatolian fete in Stoke Newington

* Turkish presidential election in the UK (voters must be pre-registered): Olympia Conference Centre, Hammersmith Road, Kensington W14 8UX, tomorrow Sat 2 Aug 2014, Sun Aug 2014, 8am-5pm

* Turks in Hackney: Anatolian style in Stokey; Kingsland Kurds 1, local thugs 0 

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