British govt warns travellers ahead of Turkish elections

The British foreign office has updated its travel advice ahead of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, warning to travellers to avoid large crowds and follow the advice of local authorities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the snap elections in April, setting the date for Jun. 24, almost one-and-a-half years before they were due in November 2019.

The presidential election will move to a second round of voting two weeks later if no outright winner emerges from the first.

With political parties working overtime to organise rallies and other political events around the country before votes are cast, and instances of violence reported at recent campaigning events, the British foreign office’s announcement was already timely.

It is the rallies and demonstrations taking place on or after election day that the announcement specifically warns travellers of, however.

An upset at the ballot box or suspicions of electoral fraud are two possible scenarios that could bring Turkish citizens out to the streets to protest, potentially triggering police interventions or violence between rival political groups.

However, the foreign office warns travellers to stay away from all large crowds, including those of citizens who can be expected to celebrate if their party performs well at the elections.

The British government has already classified Turkey as a country which bears risks for travellers, describing the chance of a terrorist attack as “very likely” due to the dual threat of attacks by jihadists from the Islamic State (ISIS) or by Kurdish militants from groups linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been staging an armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule since the 1980s.