Do many Turkish-Dutch people really value democracy?
Let’s say you moved from your home country to another country decades ago, most likely at a young age. There you found a partner – sometimes from your old country, sometimes from a new one. You have children there, they grow up there, for whom it is their natural home.
They only know your country of birth from vacation. Not only do your descendants have the nationality of the country where they have lived all their lives, but so do you, because your life also takes place there for eleven months out of twelve.
Of course, you also hold your mother country’s passport, and sometimes your children born here do too. That’s because one day, after your retirement, you might want to come back and spend your old age there yourself. With that assumption in mind, you also changed countries at that time.
Tentatively, the idea was there at the time. But the years turned into decades and the chances of your return are getting smaller. Indeed, one does. However, most of them are not in the end, because much of their past – including their descendants – is not now, but here. The immigrant has indeed become an immigrant.
And then there are the elections in your country of birth. A passport of that country also entitles you to vote. what are you doing then
With current events in mind, and the title at the top of this column, you are now thinking of Turkey and Turkish immigrants.
What can But I did not make the above so briefly without reason. Because you can also think of Dutch people who have lived in America for decades, set up their lives there, married a native there, and bred there. Sometimes they think they will come back one day.
They were in the news recently because after such a long time they threatened to lose their Dutch nationality and thus their Dutch voting rights. Like the Turkish diaspora, they wanted to help decide whether Ankara should still be doing it with Erdogan twenty years later and continue with the hack route thirteen years later.
‘Want help deciding which country you no longer live in?’
It affected them too!
And what’s more interesting: in their case, the response is more understandable than that of Turkish immigrants who, despite being away from Turkey for decades, still insist on the Turkish right to vote based on the same illusion of return.
But the key question is surely the same for both: Should you help decide the country you no longer live in so that you don’t feel the policy consequences of your vote? A Turkish Dutchman does not suffer from Erdogan, a Dutch American does not suffer from Rutte, but he saddles those at home to his liking.
At the same time, there is a difference: Erdogan has turned his country into an autocracy, with a monopoly on power in the economy and the media. Political opponents are persecuted and critical journalists are jailed. Rutte didn’t go much further than a slimy chat with annoying enemies.
In addition, Erdoğan’s long arm also extends abroad – many are afraid to criticize him because it could have consequences for themselves or their relatives living in Turkey. Threats that AKP voters convey through stories to the Big Boss in Ankara create a sense of insecurity.
In that light, it is particularly galling that the same Turkish diaspora could be decisively supportive of Erdogan in the second round of the yet-to-be-decided presidential election, as the percentage of AKP voters abroad is many times higher than in Turkey.
Imprisoning opponents, silencing the press, increasing lack of freedom, not to mention the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities: what are these Turkish voters, living here with complete freedom, not caring about it for Turkey?
If they think a semi-dictator is doing a wonderful job because he made ‘their’ country great again, what about their sense of democracy? How would we feel if three-quarters of Russians living in Europe viewed Putin as decisive?
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