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Turkish expatriate voters ‘increasingly right wing’

Turkish expatriate voters ‘increasingly right wing’

Change in German Turkish voting intentions suggests expatriates are more likely to support Tories in the future

Angela Merkel, who is expected to comfortably win a third term this weekend’s German federal election

Angela Merkel, who is expected to comfortably win a third term this weekend’s German federal election

By Michael Daventry

TURKISH immigrants in Germany are reversing decades of voting tradition to back Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union in greater numbers than ever before.

In a shift that will be closely watched by the Conservative and Labour parties in London, polling has revealed German-Turkish voter support for the governing CDU has almost doubled since the last election in 2009.

Turkish migrants have traditionally supported parties from the centre-left in Europe, which are more sympathetic to immigrant issues, even if they voted for centre-right parties at home.

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), for example, supports introducing dual citizenship, a popular issue among German Turks who are forced to choose one passport by the age of 23.

The voting trend has been evident in Britain, where the bulk of Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Kurdish support goes to the Labour Party. The party draws more councillors and party members from the Turkish-speaking communities than either the Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties.


The poll, for the Deutsch-Türkisches Journal, found that 42.9 per cent of the estimated one million German-Turkish voters still backed the SPD, but that this figure was down from 50 per cent at the last federal election in 2009.

Support for the CDU, meanwhile, reached 20.3 per cent, up from 11 per cent at the previous election.

Bekir Yılmaz, president of the Turkish Community in Berlin, told The Times that the growing popularity of the CDU was evidence that Turkish migrants “have finally arrived in Germany” and no longer voted on specifically immigrant issues.

The view appeared to be supported by the Deutsch-Türkisches Journal’s editor-in-chief, Süleyman Bağ.

“The first guest workers from Turkey mainly found jobs in mines and unions,” he said.

“This gave them an affinity for the SPD but there is now greater economic plurality among Turks in Germany.”


A study by an Ankara-based university earlier this year found significant disparity between Turkish migrants’ voting preferences at home and in their adoptive countries.

44 per cent said they would support the centre-right AK Party and 12 per cent the centre-right CHP in a Turkish general election. In Europe, however, 55 per cent of the same sample said they would support a social democratic party.

The survey, by Hacettepe University’s Centre for Migration and Political Studies, also revealed Turkish expatriates are highly politically aware, with 74 per cent saying they organised their trips to Turkey around elections to ensure they could vote.


Observers in Germany said a controversial book by a former SPD which attacks Turks was a factor in the fall in support.

Former SPD finance minister Thilo Sarrazin’s book, “Germany Is Abolishing Itself”, is an attack on multiculturalism which blames Turks for refusing to integrate and claims they had lower intelligence.

Speaking to The Times, SPD candidate for Berlin Cansel Kızıltepe admitted the Mr Sarrazin had “sapped the confidence of the German-Turkish community” but argued that this was felt by all parties because of the huge sales of the book.

She continued: “What was unnerving was that apparently too many people in Germany shared these crude theories.

“I am convinced that the SPD is the best choice for voters from the German-Turkish community because we are clear that anyone should be able to better themselves through education regardless of where they come from or what religion they belong to.”

Mrs Merkel is expected to comfortably win a third term this weekend’s German federal election.


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