Voting strategically

The fun is not over yet. As a follow-up to the post I wrote about the role the Armenian Genocide is playing in the run-up to the parliamentarian elections in Holland in three weeks (on November 22), I will now tell you what “voting strategically” means. Remember, this is what the Turkish-Dutch community was considering after voting for the PvdA (labor Party) and CDA (Christen-Democrats) became out of the question because these parties had removed three candidate-MPs because they refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide?

Turks Forum (Turkish Forum), a Turkish lobby group has started a campaign to urge Turkish-Dutch voters to vote for Fatma Koser Kaya, a current MP for the small centrist party D66. This party apparently does not pressure its Turkish-Dutch MP to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. It seems that this campaign is not only about boycotting PvdA and CDA, but according to Dutch newspaper Trouw also against the VVD (Liberals, one of the current parties in the government), GroenLinks (GreenLeft) and SP (Socialist Party). An article from Associated Press published on Armenia Liberty/RFE/RL on Monday mentions that D66 “is the only mainstream party that doesn’t refer to the slaughter as genocide in its stated positions.” Turks Forum has now sent out posters to Turkish associations in the Netherlands encouraging Turkish-Dutch voters to vote for Koser Kaya.

“Who should the Turkish community’s votes go to? Let’s use the voting ballot to teach a lesson to those who want to limit our democratic rights!” said the Turks Forum poster.[…]The poster carries pictures of ethnic Turk candidates with a┬áred cross and the words “definitely not” in Turkish next to the names of parties that say the killings constituted genocide. At the top of the list is a photo of a candidate for the D-66 party, Fatma Koser Kaya, with the word “evet,” Turkish for yes.

Fatma Koser Kaya acknowledges on her website that “many hundreds of thousands of Armenians were slaughtered” during World War I, but she refrains from using the word genocide. Her position on the matter is close to Nebahat Albayrak’s who also refuses to call the genocide a genocide, but who does, like Koser Kaya, admit that an open and scientific debate should take place in Turkey about the mass-murders and who was responsible for them. Albayrak, by the way, recently stated in an interview with Turkish newspaper Aksam, that she is not using and will not use the word genocide. She seems to have retreated even further after her article in Trouw newspaper which I discussed extensively in my previous post on the topic.

In the footsteps of Nebahat Albayrak, the number two on its list of candidates, the PvdA leadership seems to retrace its steps as well: “In an apparent attempt to limit political fallout, Labor’s National Party Chairman Michiel van Hulten wrote to local party offices in The Hague and Rotterdam instructing them not to use the issue as a litmus test for Turkish-Dutch candidates, newspaper Trouw reported.” (RFE/RL; link to the article in Trouw is here). Van Hulten may have even gone so far as to take over Albayrak’s position, saying there were massacres but no genocide, though I could only find reference to that here.

The results of the Turks Forum’s campaign are still unclear, but according to Trouw newspaper, in the polls D66 is back to two seats in parliament (which has 150 seats), whereas according to previous polls they would get none. There are about 164,000 Turkish-Dutch voters, but I couldn’t find to how many seats in parliament that corresponds.

There is one element in this whole debate that struck me, or rather the absence of it struck me. I mentioned in my previous post the perceived double loyalty of Turkish-Dutch (candidate-)MPs:

I think it opened many eyes to the large influence the Turkish authorities apparently have on politicians of Turkish decent in other European countries (at least in Holland, but my guess is that it won’t be much different in for example Germany). All three removed candidates have been active in local and provincial politics for years. It also raised questions about possible double loyalties of MPs of Turkish descent and the collision of such double loyalties: Holland or Turkey?

I would think that this is a fairly important aspect of this issue, but it turns out that it isn’t. Apart from the very beginning in one or two articles, it doesn’t get mentioned anymore. At all. To be honest, for me this possible double loyalty is much more worrisome than what the (candidate-)MP’s stand is on the Armenian genocide. I would imagine the former would have more impact on his functioning as a MP than the latter. But, as I said, this aspect has disappeared from the radar entirely.

Almost two years ago the Dutch parliament unanimously voted for acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide. Now, when it is politically expedient to do so, they collectively back off….

I will keep you posted.

My previous post about this topic is here.

[edited to delete dead links]

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