Far from Istanbul, voters at cardboard polling booths set up in a Berlin sporting arena are helping to decide whether Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s becomes Turkey’s next president. The large Turkish diaspora in Germany and other countries around the world is for the first time getting its say in a Turkish election, with presidential voting kicking off in a change that offers new clout to the community here. The recent change in Turkish law allowing Turks abroad to vote has been heralded as a sign of political empowerment. It is a move that comes as Turks in Germany are also being courted by German politicians after years of being ignored—amid new laws that make it easier for Germany-born Turks to gain dual citizenship and the appointment of the country’s first minister of Turkish descent. The community may not be large enough to make much difference for Mr. Erdogan, who is widely expected to win Turkey’s first direct presidential elections handily. But the prime minister has made visits to Germany this year, packing stadiums in Cologne and Berlin.
“I’m voting for Erdogan, I’ve never seen anyone who has done so much for Turkey. He gets his way with everything,” said Ibrahim Çakmak, a 47-year-old factory worker waiting in line at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium—one of seven polling stations set up for four days, ending Sunday, around Germany. The election in Turkey is set for Aug. 10.
Mr. Erdogan has said that among Turkish voters abroad he will beat his challengers by a wide margin. The opposition has acknowledged that claim over the past month, anticipating that the premier may easily secure 65% or more of the votes overseas. Though there have been no political polls of Turks abroad, the latest surveys at home give him just under 55% support—enough to sweep to victory in the first round of voting.