Turkish immigrants vote left in Europe, right in Turkey

Members of Turkish communities residing in Europe -- most of whom have been living in their host countries for more than two decades and about 20 percent of whom were born in Europe -- overwhelmingly vote for left-wing parties in their host countries while they vote for right-wing political parties in Turkish elections.

This observation comes from a comprehensive study of the 5 million European residents of Turkish origin conducted by Hacettepe University's Center for Migration and Political Studies (HUGO).

The first wave of immigrants went to Germany 50 years ago as temporary workers, but today they are starting to display the qualities of a diaspora. HUGO's survey, titled “EuroTurks Barometer,” found that most of those in Europe of Turkish origin want to live in both countries. The survey, led by researchers and HUGO Director Murat Erdogan, was conducted in six EU countries where the Turkish population is over 100,000 by interviewing 2,634 people aged 14 and up selected from 22,099 households.

The survey found that in the half a century that has passed since the first wave of immigrants who went for jobs, those who have Turkish roots have now become an inseparable part of Europe. Of the 5 million in Europe, 3 million are in Germany. Fifty-seven percent of the survey's respondents have spent more than 20 years in their host country, and 90 percent have been there for more than 10 years. About 20 percent were born in their host country. HUGO Director Erdogan says: “More than half of the population are EU citizens. Turkish immigrants should no longer be seen as workers but as a Turkish diaspora.”

In response to the question on whether or not they feel at home in their host country, 82.5 percent of the respondents said “yes.” They also feel they are completely integrated into their respective societies. About 70 percent say they are likely to stay in Europe, with 15 percent saying they would like to live in both countries and 23 percent saying they might consider moving to Turkey.

The survey also found that although they vote for socialists and the Greens in Europe, they vote for conservative parties in Turkey. Erdogan explains the difference: “This can be explained by the trans-national immigrant psychology and needs. It also shows that individuals can have more than one political identity. This is not a contradiction but a rational choice.”

Although staying in Europe permanently is an increasing choice, the survey found that the feeling of belonging to Turkey is also very strong. Thirty-four percent of the respondents described themselves as “Turkish and Muslim,” while 7 percent said they were both Turkish and at the same time identified with their host country.

Seventy percent feel that they are targets of discrimination in their European communities and 80 percent say that there is Islamophobia in Europe.

They are not very keen on Turkey's EU membership, with most feeling that it is currently a bad time, due to the dire financial straits of the eurozone.