Dutch Turks back Erdogan in referendum as Turkey ‘slides towards dictatorship’

Netherlands and Turkey flag pins

Although a small majority of Turks voted in favour of a referendum giving greater powers to president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Netherlands nearly 71% voted yes, broadcaster NOS said on Monday.

With almost all the votes counted, 51% of Turks voted for abolishing the role of prime minister and boosting the president’s powers, state news agency Anadolu said. The official result will not be published for several days.

In the Netherlands, some 82,000 Dutch Turks cast their vote, around a third of those entitled to do so.

The news agency said 71% voted in favour of the referendum and 29% against. The ‘yes’ vote also won among Turkish nationals in Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark. In the US, UK, Russia, Sweden and Poland, Turkish nationals voted ‘no’.

Residents in the three biggest Turkish cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir also voted ‘no’ and opposition parties have called for a recount.

Young Turks

According to research by the Volkskrant, younger Dutch Turks are more likely to vote for Erdogan than their parents.

Dutch Turkish anthropologist Ibrahim Yerden told the paper that youngsters have a divided identity. ‘They have their feet in the Netherlands but their head is in Turkey,’ he said.

‘The second and third generations feel a sense of discrimination and exclusion more strongly,’ said Erasmus professor Jaco Dagevos. ‘These youngsters are continually talked to as Turks and Muslims. But they also want to be Rotterdammers, employees and students – just ordinary citizens.’

Dutch reaction

The Dutch caretaker cabinet has yet to give its official line on the result, but MPs were quick to voice their concerns.

‘Almost half of the Turks voted ‘no’. Erdogan is not entitled to call himself a winner in this totally divided country,’ Dutch Socialist MP Sadet Karabulut said on Twitter.

PVV leader Geert Wilders said on Twitter Turkey had opted for ‘more Islamofascism and totalitarianism.’ VVD parliamentarian and foreign policy spokesman Han ten Broeke said a marginal victory had given the president far-reaching powers.

‘In a democracy, it is crucial that power has limits and that citizens have rights which cannot be taken away by the state,’ D66 foreign policy spokesman Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said. ‘This referendum… confirms the negative trend under Erdogan. Turkey is sliding into dictatorship.’

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