TV review “Hard but fair”: Lambsdorff – The Turkey election was “free but not fair”


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Es is the “most important election of the year in the whole world,” said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff on Monday evening at “Hart aber fair” about the presidential election in Turkey. After a close race, incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan took 49.51 percent of the vote, just ahead of opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. But without an absolute majority for one of the two candidates, the runoff will be held in two weeks.

Does Erdogan have the better cards? Or will his opponent Kilicdaroglu, who leads a six-party alliance, prevail? What does that mean, above all, for the majority of the German population with Turkish roots – and how do they perceive the election at all? About it moderator Louis Klamroth discussed with his guests.

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Anyone who has accused “hard but fair” of one-sidedness in the past should have been pleasantly surprised by the round on Monday evening. Klamroth invited four people of Turkish origin to the show – including someone who voted for Erdogan himself. Ufuk Varol comes from a guest worker family in Cologne and explained on the show why he chose the AKP politician.

Also invited were the WELT journalist and author Deniz Yücel, who was in Turkish custody for a year in 2017, and the journalist Nalan Sipar, who runs a Turkish-German YouTube channel. Also present: Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group and former diplomat, as well as the former mayor of Cologne Fritz Schramma, who campaigned for the construction of the Ditib Mosque in Cologne. The Finance Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Danyal Bayaz (Greens), was invited to the one-on-one interview.

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Deniz Yücel is no friend of Erdogan, and his assessment of the election in Turkey was accordingly. He listed: impoverishment, inflation, poor management after the earthquake earlier this year, corruption, nepotism and a steady dismantling of the rule of law and freedom of expression. Yücel’s clear conclusion: “It is devastating that Erdogan still has such a good result after this devastating government record.”

“Devastating” election result: WELT journalist Deniz Yücel

Which: © WDR/Dirk Borm

However, the election has not yet been decided for the President, emphasized Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. One must now keep an eye on the run-off election in particular, because it “heats up the political climate – and then it becomes really dangerous,” said the foreign politician.

“AKP voters are not necessarily stupid”

Lambsdorff reported that the election had been significantly rigged in Erdogan’s favour, especially in the media and in polls. “Yes, today the choice was free,” said Lambsdorff. “But because what happened before went the way it went, she wasn’t fair.”

This includes, for example, the fact that the actual party leader of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, Selahattin Demirtas, has been illegally imprisoned for six years or that Erdogan has enjoyed almost unlimited media presence on pro-government stations.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Up to this point, the guests were in agreement – ​​but when it came to the Germans of Turkish origin, Yücel and Sipar got into a fight. Around two-thirds of the German-Turks who took part in the election voted for Erdogan. Yücel blamed it mainly on the social milieu: Because Germany has a particularly large number of guest worker families, people tend to choose the right-wing AKP here. This goes on for several generations.

But then Nalan Sipar intervened: “Even right-wing people, even conservative people can be well educated, even fourth-generation guest workers are often academics.” did not get vaccinated against the corona virus: “These are not necessarily stupid people who are not well read. You have to make the effort to talk to these people,” said the journalist.

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The journalist Can Dündar has been living in exile in Germany for seven years.  He is accused of terrorism in Turkey

“Sorry, Nalan, but sociological findings are not judgments!” Yücel warned. But then moderator Klamroth already led to the next topic.

However, this should not end the topic of the German Turks. Ufuk Varol, a 40-year-old father from Cologne, also commented on this topic. That was courageous, Nalan Sipar conceded – many large editorial offices are currently finding it difficult to find AKP voters who are willing to interview them.

“Democracy works a little differently there”

Actually, his family chooses the CHP party, said Varol, i.e. that of opposition leader Kilicdaroglu. “At some point, however, with the Erdogan government, we saw that something decent was happening in Turkey.” He had “never experienced” restrictions on press freedom.

In addition, the country cannot be compared to Germany: “Democracy works a bit differently there. But in the end it works.” And in the end, in a free democracy, the people should decide – in Turkey they do, Varol remarked pointedly: “We’re talking about a turnout of well over 80 percent. When was the last time we had that in Germany?”

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Deniz Yücel - author and journalist

Varol was not always factual when it came to questions such as women’s rights or the Kurdish minority – and unfortunately Klamroth did not intervene sufficiently. When Varol claimed that Turkish customers had never had as many rights as they had under Erdogan, Klamroth only stuttered something about bombs and that Kurds would certainly see things differently.

What went wrong with the integration?

Yücel rebuked Varol for this: “When Mr. Erdogan took office 20 years ago, he did not speak of a Turkish-style democracy, but he said there is only one democracy, human rights are universal, and either they apply or they do not apply.” , said Yucel. Erdogan initially wanted to link his political successes to the solution of the Kurdish conflict, but today there is not much left of it.

Varol blamed German society for the large number of Erdogan voters in Germany. His father, who came to Germany as a guest worker, was not sufficiently integrated. He himself experiences everyday racism: something must have happened in society that they didn’t manage “to persuade a Ufuk Varol not to vote for Erdogan,” he said.

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Presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey

For Varol, the violent criticism that the Turkish-German soccer player Mesut Özil heard when he posed for a photo with Erdogan in 2018 is symbolic of the bad treatment of German-Turks. “That’s exactly what bothers me about Germany – we’re talking about freedom of expression here, but I have to think 15 times about getting on this show,” said Varol.

“Excuse me, but that’s part of freedom of expression,” interjected Yücel. “Mesut Özil was not arrested for his photo, he was criticized,” said the journalist. “The AfD likes to complain like that,” he said afterwards, but Klamroth was already standing in front of them at the table – the discussion was broken off again.

Finally, the Turkish-German Finance Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Danyal Bayaz (Greens), had to justify a tweet by his party colleague Cem Özdemir. The Federal Minister of Agriculture had asked German Turks to opt for “plurality and the rule of law” – a clear request not to vote for Erdogan.

“Such a superfluous election call is negligent”

Yücel also criticized that sharply: “Especially in a situation where the acting interior minister of Turkey says that this election is an attempted coup by the West, such a superfluous call for elections is negligent.”

Above all, he targeted the foreign policy of the Greens under Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: “All the questionable partnerships that the federal government has concluded with Turkey are being continued. Then to write on Twitter ‘Vote Erdogan’ – sorry, that’s cheap.”

Bayaz was apparently not happy about Özdemir’s tweet himself, because he emphasized again: “It wasn’t my decision.” However, he also supported the message to work for democracy and the rule of law in Germany – that was “an important political signal”. He criticized the fact that German Turks chose Erdogan because of their experiences of racism: “Of course, if your name is Mehmet, you won’t find an apartment so quickly. But that should never be the reason for voting autocracy out of democracy.”

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