Germany’s Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann warned against the potential of hate speech during Turkey’s election campaign in Germany by supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling for consistent enforcement of assembly law and raising awareness of the issue’s urgency, the German daily Rheinische Post reported on Wednesday.
Germany is a key battleground for Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, with around 1.4 million people of Turkish origin living in the country who are eligible to vote. However, concerns have been raised over the possibility of hate speech being spread during the election campaign in Germany by supporters of President Erdoğan.
Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann wrote to Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warning of potential attempts to spread hate speech during election campaign appearances in Germany. Buschmann cited a party friend of Erdoğan who threatened supporters of Kurdish parties in Germany, stating that some Turkish officials and elected representatives deliberately use inhumane language towards political opponents at election campaign events in Germany.
Buschmann called for the provisions of assembly law to be consistently observed and enforced, including the obligation to obtain permission for appearances by foreign officials and elected representatives. He also emphasised the importance of maintaining sensitivity to the issue and raising awareness of the urgency of taking action.
Experts suggest that the election campaign by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters has been taking place in Germany for a long time, often in secret. Official election campaign appearances by foreign officials from non-EU states have required a permit from the German federal government since 2017. However, this permission is generally not granted in the three months before an election or a vote.
Germany is of particular interest to Erdoğan and his AKP, with 64.8 percent of eligible Turks in Germany voting for Erdoğan in the 2018 elections, 12.2 percentage points more than in Turkey as a whole. The upcoming election is crucial for Erdoğan and his party, with immense inflation, high unemployment and the still-catastrophic situation in the earthquake-struck areas making every vote count.