Turkish government violating own law which prohibits campaigning abroad

Turkish protestors in Rotterdam demonstrate against the prevention of Turkish minister Fatma Kaya from holding rally, 11 March 2017.

Attempts by Justice and Development (AKP) Party government ministers to hold rallies for Turkey’s upcoming constitutional referendum, has led to crises with several European countries.

The most recent escalation of tensions in the Netherlands, after a Turkish minister was prevented from holding a rally in Rotterdam, has brought it to public attention that campaigning abroad is prohibited by Turkey’s laws.

Article 94/A of the general election law explicitly bans campaigning abroad or in foreign diplomatic missions. Ironically the law was enacted by the current government.

Speaking to dpa, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, Sezgin Tanrikulu, noted that although campaigning abroad was banned it had no criminal liability and was more a “moral obligation.”

Referring to Germany’s banning of some pro-government events the trained lawyer said, “If the German authorities do not want to host Turkish events, they can argue that foreign campaigning is prohibited.”

Mustafa Yeneroglu, the head of the AKP’s election campaign abroad and a member of parliament, declined to comment on the law, after being approached by dpa.

Most major parties have violated the law in previous elections, including the CHP and AKP.

Meanwhile Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ertugrul Kurkcu has called incidents in the Netherlands a “sham fight” and ploy to gain votes by both Dutch and Turkish politicians in their respective elections.

“The AKP has been trying to create political polarisation in Turkey for a long time. Ultimately, they have imported this polarisation from the Netherlands. The incidents are related to the tactical interests of both sides.”

There are thought to be at least 2.9 million eligible voters from Turkey living in Europe.