Expatriate Turks started casting their ballots last week for the June 24 snap presidential and parliamentary elections called for by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the past, Erdogan’s numerous electoral victories could be attributed in part to support from Turks in Europe. Whether this support has done them any good, however, is questionable. Already facing serious problems related to integration and racism, their backing of Erdogan appears to have made their lives more difficult, not simpler. Many argue that this stems from the Turkish president’s innate disdain for the West and his insulting approach to European politicians.
Erdogan set off shock waves last year when he referred to political leaders in Germany, Holland and Austria as Nazis. He had gone ballistic after he and ministers from his Justice and Development Party (AKP) were prevented from canvassing Turks in those countries for the constitutional referendum designed to enhance his hold on power by replacing Turkey’s parliamentary democracy with a presidential system.