Anti-Turkey rhetoric backfires: Turks in Europe vote ‘yes’

The majority of Turkish citizens living abroad supported the constitutional changes with the “yes” campaign garnering 75 percent of the vote in Belgium, 73 percent in Austria, 71 percent in the Netherlands, 65 percent in France and 63 percent in Germany. The voter turnout for citizens living abroad was 48 percent with 1.4 million having a say in the referendum, 7 percent higher than the Nov. 1, 2015 general elections. Despite having to travel long distances to reach polling stations at the consulate generals, the turnout is higher than many of the national elections in Europe.
Some European politicians were not happy with the will of their nationals of Turkish origin, who hold dual citizenship. Hours after the unofficial referendum results were announced, parliamentarians from all three coalition parties of the federal Belgian government have called for an end to the dual nationality practice. Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) lawmaker Hendrik Bogaert called for the abolishment of dual citizenship and said, “We cannot say that nothing has happened. Such dual nationality is not conducive to integration. One is eventually more engaged in foreign than in Belgian politics.”
The deputy added immediately that the abolition would apply only to people who combine their Belgian identity with an identity outside the European Union. Such rhetoric solely aiming at those supporting the Turkish leadership is interpreted as another double standard of current populist European politics. Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken extended his support to Bogaert’s call and said “Okay, let’s dot it.” He said his Flemish Nationalist Party (N-VA) has long been in favor of such a change. N-VA leader Bart De Wever called for a cross-party effort to abolish the dual nationality. “There are technical and practical obstacles, but they are not insurmountable. We have all the necessary studies and preparatory work done on it, so there is a basis of to leave.”
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders is more cautious in his response. “That debate is much broader and should not be opened after a decision of a particular community. We need to take time to study it calmly.” Reynders points out that many Belgians have dual nationality, including many French. “We cannot reopen the debate on dual nationality depending on the outcome of a foreign referendum.” Meanwhile, Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders called on voters who voted “yes” to return to Turkey. Commenting on a De Telegraaf news piece titled “Dutch Turks voted for Yes,” Wilders said, “And now you all flock back to Turkey!”

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