On Friday (August 18), Turkey’s president and the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called on Turkish Diaspora in Germany and urged them ‘not to vote for the SPD, CDU, or the Greens’ in the upcoming elections.
Erdoğan’s statements delivered to a crowd of his party members in front of journalists and televised on national channels, received prompt and strong reaction from Germany’s top officials.
"That is an unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country," German FM Sigmar Gabriel told the RedaktionsNetzwerk media group, adding: "Erdogan's interference in Germany's electoral campaign shows that he wants to incite people in Germany against each other."
In a tweet, Martin Schulz of SPD said Erdoğan ‘has completely gone too far’ with his latest remarks and vowed to be ‘on the side of those fighting for a free and democratic Turkey’.
Responding to Erdoğan’s remarks during a meeting with her party members in Herford, CDU’s Merkel said ‘all German citizens, including those with a Turkish descent, have the freedom and the right to elect’ and expressed strong objection by saying they do ‘not tolerate any kind of intervention’.
Co-leader of the Greens Party, Cem Özdemir, drew attention how Germany’s right-wing AfD was not the target of Erdoğan and said ‘everyone in Turkey who is pro-democracy; anti-oppression; anti-corruption; and, not a supporter of Erdoğan gets declared as an enemy and a traitor’.
Giving statements to Bild newspaper, CSU’s head Scheuer also criticized Erdoğan’s approach firmly and said ‘the despot from the Bosporus is crossing the lines with his orders given regarding the federal elections’ in Germany. ‘We are not going to allow Erdoğan to turn Turks in Germany into a fifth pillar for himself’, Scheuer said, adding ‘voters in Germany cast their votes freely and in a democratic way’.