Why don't people love Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turks Abroad: The Unlimited Love for Erdoğan

In Austria, the Turkish President achieved almost a three-quarters majority. Its voters come from central and eastern Anatolia. He only has more loyal fans in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Vienna. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to hold the Turkish community in Austria with a Turkish passport (or dual citizenship) in high regard. As in previous polls in Turkey, the incumbent also achieved a significantly better result in the presidential election on Sunday in Austria than in his home country and most other European countries with a Turkish diaspora. With a turnout of around 50 percent, the founder of the ruling AKP party got 72 percent of the vote (compared to 52.6 percent overall). It's a trend that continues to solidify. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, almost 70 percent of the Turks living in Austria voted for the AKP. At the Turkish constitutional referendum in April of the previous year, 73 percent were in favor of the introduction of the presidential system.

But even earlier, in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the Welfare Party, the former party of Erdoğan and his foster father, Neçmettin Erbakan, was able to build on a majority. This sympathy is mainly due to the origins of the Austrian Turks, who consist of the guest worker generation and their descendants. The majority of the workers recruited from 1964 onwards came from impoverished, rural, very religious Central and Eastern Anatolia.

Recruiting unskilled workers

In addition - unlike in Germany with its specialized auto industry - hardly any highly educated skilled workers were recruited, but mainly auxiliary workers. These men and women often joined together in mosques and Islamic associations such as Milli Görüs, continued their lives without cultural breaks and passed their values ​​on to their children. The traditionally strong Islamic associations in Austria also play a role in the election campaign, mobilization and logistics (bus trips to the three consulates). When voting abroad was not yet possible, cheap one-day flights to Turkey were organized.

Whether and to what extent the recent closings of mosques by the government in Vienna played a role is difficult to say, as voting behavior does not differ significantly from previous elections. The skillful appropriation of Turks abroad by Erdoğan, who likes to refer to them as “my compatriots” and “western brothers” in his emotional speeches and thus gives them a sense of belonging, is likely to be another factor in his disproportionate success in Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium with up to 75 percent. "Also in Europe, with God's help, burst the urns," he appealed.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan counts on the foreign factor, and the pro Erdoğan results are very consistent. The states with the largest Turkish community in Europe had banned Erdoğan's election campaign appearances by the president and his ministers this year after the serious controversy of last year and the sharp anti-Western polemics. In Germany alone, around 1.5 million, half of the Turks abroad who are eligible to vote live.

Strong Kurdish bastion in Switzerland

Meanwhile, a contrary picture emerges in southern Europe. In Spain and Italy, the supporters of the opposition candidate Muharrem Ince prevailed on Sunday, some with a large margin. In the UK, İnce held its own with an absolute majority. In the British Isles, Erdoğan even finished third behind Selahattin Demirtaş, the candidate for the Kurdish party HDP.

There are large Kurdish strongholds in Great Britain, Sweden and Switzerland, which is reflected in the election results. Demirtaş achieved 27.5 percent in Switzerland - with a comparatively similar number of Turkish voters - more than three times as much as in Austria. Incidentally, the Kurdish politician did the strongest in an international comparison in Japan and Iraq, while Erdoğan achieved his best result in Lebanon: 94 percent.

("Die Presse", print edition, June 26, 2018)