Control of the diaspora in the EU and more public

Control of the diaspora in the EU and more public money for the election campaign: Erdogan’s tactics for…

the elections Turkey are getting closer, but the political picture of the country is still quite uncertain. The outgoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continue lose support due to the economic crisis and the devaluation of the lira, remains in first place in terms of the number of preferences, while the opposition is still looking for a common candidate. In such an uncertain picture, however, Erdogan can count on two important factors to secure a new mandate at the helm of his country: the Turkish Diaspora in Europe and access to public funds for the election campaign.

In Europe live approx 5 million Turks who have left their country, especially since the 1960s. The heart of the diaspora lies in Germanywhere there are at least 3 million people of Turkish origin, while the rest are mainly distributed Austria, France and Netherlands. Migration to Europe was triggered by a series of agreements signed with Turkey in the 1960s cheap labour on the old continent. Later, EU countries also became targets for those fleeing the coups of 1970 and 1981 or, more recently, Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism. To this day, the states of the Union most affected by the migratory flows from Turkey are already living second and third generation of Turkish origin, on which the outgoing president is seeking re-election.

“Turkey is starting to invest more in maintenance strong ties to its diaspora in Europe since the 1980s, when it was clear that Turks who had emigrated to work would not return home,” he explains Klara Maritato, researcher at the University of Turin. “To achieve this, Turkey is striving Embassies and other institutions created in different historical moments, which not only serve to strengthen the connection with the Diaspora, but also Check it“.

However, the primary goal remains to reconnect Turkish citizens with their country of origin and to lead them to a self-definition nationalistic and religious key. Among the instruments used by Turkey is the diyaneta state body increasingly associated with President Erdogan and concerned with the administration of Religious Affairs Abroad. In addition to controlling and directing the diaspora. “Now Diyanet is present in all European countries and also has an international department dedicated exclusively to the management of activities abroad – continues Maritato – This organization organizes activities for young people, adults and even children, such as Religious literacy schoolstakes care of the dispatch of imams, preachers and preachers to Europe and has its own official in each major city of the Union”.

Offering services and activities of a religious nature allows Diyanet to reach a certain part of the diaspora, ie the most conservative part and already close to the president, but the component of Turkish origin in Europe is not monolithic. “In the past ten years, a new diaspora has also emerged, that ofurban upper and middle classeseducated, who has study and work experience abroad, who does not support the President and partly also composed of religious minorities in Turkey and persecuted by members of LGBTQ+ community‘ Maritato specifies. It is therefore a diaspora poorly integrated into the historical one, with different values ​​and more critical of the President, which has also been politicized in the context of and has taken part in demonstrations of Gezi Park erupted in 2013 and was brutally repressed by the police. “However, most of the diaspora in Europe support the current government, so they are effectively intercepted by Diyanet,” concludes Maritato.

The election abroad is not the only card Erdogan is willing to play. The President can also rely on that greater financial resources than its opponents in conducting the election campaign. As explained by Oya OzarslanLawyer of the NGO International Transparencythe amendment to Law No. 7393 regulating general elections, approved in March 2022, has a regulatory gap which relieves the head of state. The revised law removed restrictions on access to public funds for the prime minister’s election campaign, a number that was scrapped with the approval of constitutional reform in 2017 There were no limits as to who filled the role of President. To the detriment of a political opposition, which also has to deal with a Turkish judiciary that follows the will of the president. For example, in the last few weeks we have witnessed the sentence to two years in prison in the first degree Mayor of Istanbul and main challenger of Erdogan, Ekrem Imamogluand later also al freezing of bank accounts the pro-Kurdish party hdp, which will therefore not have access to public funds. All useful steps to halt the growth of the opposition consensus at a time when winning back support is becoming increasingly difficult.