The headlines on Easter Monday after the Turkey referendum sounded like Germany’s newspapers had woken up in a nightmare of panicked and tormented rabbits.
The majority of Turks in Germany, they said, had voted to give President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan all kinds of new authoritarian powers, which means they must hate Germany and should leave and in fact everyone should leave except people who they like.
The numbers are slightly less alarming. There are 2.9 million people living in Germany from Turkey. Of these, 1.43 million have Turkish citizenship and the right to vote. Of these, 661,000 decided to vote in the Turkish referendum. And of these, 416,000 voted “yes”. That’s more like 15 percent of the “Turks in Germany”, not 63 percent, which was the figure the newspapers carried.
What they meant to say was that the majority of Germans with Turkish heritage in Germany who have a Turkish passport and could be bothered to vote voted to give Erdoğan… etc. So it just meant that 85 percent of Turks in Germany either don’t support Erdoğan or just want to get on with their lives.
Those 416,000 people is still a lot – they’re the Turkish-German equivalent of expat Trump voters, willing to fuck over their compatriots and disdain constitutional law (one of Erdoğan’s reforms means removing legislative powers from parliament, for example, which, yes, is fairly scary).
But given that about 10-15 percent of Germans are currently saying they’re willing to vote for the AfD, this is all part of life in a democracy. Some people just want to choose an authoritarian government. Or choose not to have a choice, in fact.
Many commentators suggested that voting for Erdoğan was a fuck-you defiance against a racist German society that has marginalized and left them behind. That could be true. Erdoğan’s German campaigners definitely played to that paranoia. But then again, some people are just dicks. And the dicks won again. But it isn’t up to the less foolish Turkish people in Germany to sort this out, any more than it’s up to German people to sort out AfD voters.