As of today, people of Turkish origin can vote for the presidential elections in Turkey for the second time in a short time. The second round is necessary because none of the candidates obtained a majority in the first round.
Sitting president Erdogan was more popular among Turks in the Netherlands than in his own country. More than two out of three voters in the Netherlands voted for him, while he remained stuck at 49.2 percent across the board.
That was just not enough to claim the win, but he outperformed the polls despite an economic crisis and a major earthquake in the country. His opponent and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu finished with 45.1 percent.
The fact that the difference was greater among Turkish Dutch people has to do with their origin, says Turkish scientist and journalist Zehra Kaya. “If you look at the election results in Turkey per province, you see that large cities and coastal cities predominantly vote for CHP, Kilicdaroglu’s party. And Anatolia, the interior, votes more often for Erdogan. Many Turkish Dutch people originally come from there.”
According to Kaya, Erdogan’s supporters consider him a strong leader because of his resistance to the West, the improved infrastructure in Turkey and the lifting of the headscarf ban. Turks from Anatolia are predominantly Muslim, and more secular people live in the major cities and coastal cities.
Erdogan is also more popular in other countries with a large Turkish community than in his own country. 57 percent of Turks abroad voted for the president and 40 percent for Kilicdaroglu. In the Netherlands, those percentages were 68 and 29.
At this voting location in Amsterdam, our reporter also met Erdogan voters:
In total, more than 1.8 million people from 74 countries went to the polls outside Turkey, according to figures from the Turkish state news agency Anadolu. The majority of these voters live in the European Union.
“You can see that there is great support for Erdogan in countries where large groups of guest workers ended up in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Netherlands, but also Belgium and Germany,” says Turkey correspondent Mitra Nazar.
“That is a conservative working class that traditionally has more with the AKP, Erdogan’s party, than with the secular Turkish opposition. Those people left Turkey before Erdogan came on the scene, and have no fond memories of the secular governments that came before him. were in power.”
Kilicdaroglu does not lose everywhere. He received by far the most votes in the United Kingdom and the United States. That can be explained, says Nazar. “In America, for example, there is not a large Turkish community like in Europe. Moreover, many Turks in those countries have emigrated before, between the 1940s and 1970s. And that group seems to be mainly secular.”
The result of the second round in the Netherlands is not difficult to predict: Turkish-Dutch voters will mainly vote for Erdogan in the coming days.
But it is also expected to be less exciting in Turkey than in the first round. Kilicdaroglu was leading in the polls at the time, but the sitting president has now turned that around.
And yet the race is not quite over yet, thinks turkologist Kaya, because Erdogan could make another mistake in his campaign in the coming week. “And if Kilicdaroglu gets the non-voters along in the second round, he can still win. Because the turnout is expected to be even higher than in the first round.”
The opposition leader also has a chance if the third candidate, Sinan Ogan, calls on his supporters to vote for Kilicdaroglu. Ogan, the candidate of a far-right and ultra-nationalist alliance, received 5 percent of the vote in the first round and has therefore fallen out. But even if Ogan makes such a call, Kaya says the question is whether his voters will listen.
- Erdogan takes leadership in Turkish elections: ‘Wonder if the opposition still wins’
- 300 people involved in RAI fight over Turkish elections
- Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu cast their votes for the most exciting Turkish elections in years