The more biased Europe is against Erdoğan, the more votes he gets

Published 28.06.2018 20:49 Modified 29.06.2018 00:30
Turkish expats in Brussels, Belgium celebrate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's election victory in the June 24 presidential elections.
Turkish expats in Brussels, Belgium celebrate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's election victory in the June 24 presidential elections.

The attempts to marginalize AK Party politicians and ban them from carrying out election campaigns for expats voters in Europe has backfired, leading to strong support for the re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and more than 50 percent support for the AK Party in the June 24 elections

The June 24 presidential election results showed that the biases and double standards by some European states against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan backfired and expat voters maintained support for Erdoğan and the AK Party. In Germany, one of the countries which had banned AK Party campaign meetings within its borders, support for Erdoğan was at 64.8 percent and support for AK Party was at 55.7 percent, according to unofficial results.

Shortly after the announcement of the June 24 snap elections, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that election campaigns will not be allowed.

"We have a clear position that three months before elections that are conducted abroad, there will be no election campaigning in Germany," Maas had said.

However, despite the ban, German authorities turned a blind eye to the meetings held in Germany by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

For the June 24 elections, there were approximately 1.5 million eligible voters in Germany and turnout was about 46 percent.

Overall, there were about 3.5 million eligible voters for the elections, and the turnout was 50.1 percent, unofficial results showed.

A similar attitude was also put to action in Germany ahead of the April 16, 2017 referendum on constitutional changes, which paved the way for the transition from parliamentary system to a presidential one. The 'Yes' bloc was banned from holding meetings, while the 'No' bloc was allowed to carry out campaign activities. In addition, the PKK terrorist group followers have enjoyed the freedom to hold public rallies across Germany, despite the PKK, which has been in an armed conflict with Turkey since the 1984, being recognized as a terror group by the EU. Germany has a three million-strong Turkish community, many of whom are second and third generation German-born citizens of Turkish descent whose grandparents moved to the country during the 1960s.

Former leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) Martin Schulz associated the support for Erdoğan among the Turkish Germans with discrimination against them. Schulz told the Düsseldorf-based Rhenısche Post in a recent interview that support to Erdoğan was a protest against the ongoing discrimination against the Turks, who have now lived in Germany for several generations. He added reportedly in the interview that Erdoğan was a matter of pride for the Turks in Germany.

In France, which has the second highest numbers of Turks living in Europe, the turnout was 47.3 percent. Support for Erdoğan was nearly 64 percent, while the AK Party received 55 percent support. In the overall results of oversea votes for the parliamentary elections, the AK Party received 51 percent, while the main opposition CHP came second with 17.65 percent and the pro-PKK HDP with 17.31 percent. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) received 8.9 percent and the newly established Good Party (İP) received 4 percent. Other European countries, including Belgium, Netherlands and Austria, also employed an anti-Turkey sentiment and implement double-standards against both Erdoğan and AK Party. In these states, both AK Party and Erdoğan also triumphed in the elections. In Belgium, support for Erdoğan was 74.9 percent among the 142,000 voters, while the AK Party received 64.3 percent of the vote.

Belgium has previously come under fire from Turkish authorities for their tolerance towards PKK demonstrations in the country, including setting up a tent in downtown Brussels with an exhibition of pro-PKK propaganda, and allowing suspected terrorists to reside in the country. In the Netherlands, Erdoğan was supported by 73 percent of the 260,000 eligible voters, and the turnout for the election was at 46.7 percent. AK Party received 64 percent of the votes. A few days before Germany's announcement that Turkish politicians are banned from carrying out elections campaigns, Austria and the Netherlands also announced that they will prevent political rallies of Turkish politicians in their countries. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had said that requests made by Turkish politicians to hold political events in the Netherlands were unwanted.

Ahead of the April 16 referendum last year, Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was not allowed to enter the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam, which led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's anti-Turkey sentiments surfaced with the June 24 elections once again. "Turkish election campaign appearances in Austria are unwanted, and we will therefore no longer allow them," Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had said. In Kurz's country, Erdoğan received 72.3 percent, while AK Party received 62.5 percent.

After the elections, a leading far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) official had called on the pro-Erdoğan Turks in Austria to go back Turkey, and said the election results "prove once again that the integration of thousands of Turks has been a miserable failure."

"All those who voted for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Turkish presidential election are clearly better off in Turkey than in Austria," he said in a statement.

Some 270,000 people with Turkish roots live in Austria. Among them, nearly 107,000 were eligible to vote, and around half of these cast their ballots. On Sunday, Erdoğan secured re-election in snap presidential polls, receiving more than 52 percent of the votes - enough for a win in the first round. After the election results were announced, thousands of Turks in Europe took to the streets to celebrate Erdoğan's victory.

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